Thursday, 29 September 2011

'Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow'

Paul Daniels
Darlington Civic Theatre

The recent TV series 'Penn and Teller Fool Us', featuring magicians Penn and Teller and a range of hopeful magicians, was very entertaining. Inspiring people to experience live shows for themselves is a worthy venture and I was pleased to see a relatively local show appear in the listings. As if by magic, my cash turned into tickets and I was off to see Paul Daniels on one night his 'Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow' tour.

The first part of the show saw Paul Daniels running through some card tricks and making handkerchiefs change colour and vanish. He told little anecdotes about his life and career at the same time. Debbie McGee then came on to do a couple of tricks of her own before handing over to Martin Daniels (Paul’s son) who took centre stage until the interval.

Martin’s magical ability isn’t in doubt, but he is by no means a straight copy of his Father. He tells a lot of jokes during his act and he brought three people from the audience to assist with a lengthy trick. One of the ‘volunteers’, presumably embarrassed and worried about being made into a spectacle, left the stage and sat down again, which meant that somebody else had to be found. The audience participation was good; all of the willing assistants really entered into the spirit of the occasion and a good laugh was had by all.

The trick, which culminated in an upturned milk jug on one chap’s head and the milk apparently being poured out of his person with the help another volunteer who was pumping his arm up and down, was almost incidental to the banter.

When we reached the interval, I was a little concerned that we weren’t going to see very much of Paul over the course of the evening. However, such thoughts were allayed and the second half of the show saw him produce a masterclass of magic, misdirection, humour and pure entertainment. One of the highlights came when we saw a rabbit produced from a hat under the most unlikely circumstances (as Daniels explained how the trick used to be done; an excellent method of misdirection, telling the audience what they should be watching out for while getting away with slight of hand and who knows what else).

The longest trick featured two more brave members from the audience. Without going into too much detail, there was very clever use of two normal looking chairs in between the main aspects of the trick. I have no idea how that particular part of the show was done. I’ve seen Daniels do it before, on a TV show years ago, but it still retained its freshness.

The finale saw Daniels somehow retrieve a ‘lost’ £10 note from inside a walnut, which was inside an egg which was, in turn, inside a lemon. It was a very entertaining evening, full of baffling tricks and laugh out loud jokes. It reminded me of the old days of Music Halls and all of their wonders. Not that I was around to go to those, but I have long been fascinated by the genre.

That reminds me – next week I’ll be back at the Darlington Civic Theatre to see Ken Dodd. Last time, we didn’t get home until after 1.00 a.m. Giving value for money remains one of the great man's obsessions.

For further details and tour dates for Paul Daniels, please make yourself appear over at his official website.

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