Laughing Horse @ The Hive
6-30 August (ex.17) 18:00
Over rehearsed, a frozen smile, a dusty hat – the stereotypical image of a magician from a children’s party perhaps, but some memories are hard to shake. So when I first heard of Piff the Magic Dragon – a man dressed head to foot in a dragon costume performing essentially the same tricks that impressed me as a child, I thought: over rehearsed, a frozen smile, and a dusty tail.
This is not the case. Piff the Magic Dragon is the assumed alter ego of John van der Put. Piff’s character reads as though he is a bored, under inspired children’s entertainer, suffering the indignity of his uniform. Jack Dee-like in temperament and holding an off-key pace, Piff presents a refreshing approach to the age old magi-comedian genre.
Under his guise, Piff finds relief from a dreary occupation through his tenuous relationships with the audience and his (equally indifferent) assistant goldfish, Christopher. The stunts are impressive, if a little patchy. Piff pulls out all the classics: sawing a volunteer in half; multiplying baby rabbits; and showing off the slickest card tricks.
Finalist of this year’s Hackney Empire New Act of the Year has the character down. With a few tweaks here and there, the show will follow.