Review: Pete Firman, Cheltenham Town Hall
THERE wasn't a white rabbit or a hat in sight. And even more amazingly, that wasn't a glamorous blonde assistant climbing into a box before being sawn in half.
Magic, it seems, has come a long way.
And if every show is placed in the hands of Pete Firman and his array of mind-boggling tricks, the genre is in good hands.
In the intimate surroundings of the Pillar Room at Cheltenham Town Hall on Valentine's Day there was love in the air.
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I speak not of the mass of couples which had gathered, but rather of Pete's love of his craft which blossomed throughout.
The show started off in a bafflingly manner. The lights dimmed, the music of Rocky blasted out and I looked in vain for Sylvester Stalone to jump from behind the black curtain.
Alas, Pete was the subject of a short film which played out over two small screens in the room with illusionist Derren Brown introducing good friend Pete to the audience. That, as someone once said, is showbusiness.
With a crash, bang and a explosion of a firecracker, Pete burst onto the stage and immediately into a trick which saw him tear a newspaper into tiny pieces. Only to put it back together again in an instance.
A host of sleight of hands tricks followed with one particular highlight involving three grapefruits and rather bizarrely, the audience cheering for their favourite.
Sure, it was a touch surreal. But the show moved along a breakneck speed with Pete's charisma, natural comic timing and audience interaction proving a big hit.
As was his support act for the evening, Chris Stokes, who took to the stage in a manner of a student who had just rolled out of bed and regretted eating a day old kebab.
Self-deprecating and deadpan, he proved another trick up Pete's suit sleeve and is certainly one to watch.
After the interval, Pete was to return. Or his hand was, waving it wildly as he directed a member of the audience to help escape from a wooden box in a Houdini-esque manner.
Impressively, it worked. But there was more to come.
Another audience member took to the stage, was subjected to a battering of witty witty repartee and became part of the show-stopping finale.
It began with Pete pouring orange juice into a glass. Followed by a strawberry milkshake, Iron Bru, red wine, milk and lemonade. All, incredibly from the same carton.
People looked at each other in disbelief as the carton was ripped open, not a secret compartment in sight.
Sure the show had more cheesy moments than an episode of Baywatch, but it was entertainment from start to finish.
I'm sorry Paul and Debbie. But for me, THAT'S magic.