sat 20/07/2024

Paul Daniels, Touring | reviews, news & interviews

Paul Daniels, Touring

Paul Daniels, Touring

Expertly executed magic tricks with old-school humour

Daniels: new tricks, old tricks and plenty of trademark patter

It's inevitable that Paul Daniels would introduce his wife and onstage partner as “... the lovely Debbie McGee”, one of two phrases now synonymous with the magician and comic.

(The other, “you'll like this, not a lot”, makes an appearance later in the evening.) However there's nothing predictable about this entertaining show of magic tricks and illusions - most of them devised by Daniels, and others associated with great names from the past that the comic, a keen student of the art of magic's history, has given a modern makeover.

I saw the show at the Broadway Theatre in Barking, and Daniels performs a dozen or so tricks, delivered with his trademark patter, with himself as the butt of most of the jokes - telling us he's an international sex symbol - or with some gentle guying of those in the audience he asks to help with tricks. He must have done this audience interaction a million times, but he manages to make most of his shtick sound freshly minted – albeit with a few groaners thrown in for good measure.

McGee (pictured below), who does a couple of solo tricks, is a less assured performer than Daniels and in good old variety style has several costume changes during the show. She helps with a couple of illusions - the box with blades put through it and a disappearing act – and is also the stooge for some of his unreconstructed humour. “Who gave you a microphone?” he says at the top of the show. But that's tame compared to the card trick with two women taken from the audience that involves them putting some playing cards down their cleavage.

It takes a brave performer to ask a woman a third of his age to do that, but Daniels does; for one precious moment I thought the young woman, clearly not enamoured of the idea despite being a keen fan, would refuse. It's a belter of a trick, and I can't think that where the women place the cards would make any difference to the outcome (it's a sleight of hand trick), but that's Daniels for you. It's a shame, too, that he couldn't resist making a negative comment about immigration - in Barking, prime Ukip territory - when a man in the audience said his name was Italian.

But these are humps in what is an evening not just of expertly executed magic but some interesting history of the craft; Daniels tells anecdotes about Ali Bongo, Houdini, David Abbott and Tommy Cooper, and generously recommends Derren Brown. Unlike anything the last-mentioned performs, though, and despite the glittery curtains on stage, this isn't a spectacular - but Daniels is a showman to his fingertips.

  • Paul Daniels is touring until 15 November
McGee is the stooge for some of Daniels's unreconstructed humour


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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