If you don’t like audience participation, don’t go to a Peter Clifford magic show. For those who like to get involved, however, this is a great night out. Most of Clifford’s tricks require audience participation of some kind, with victims picked by a beach ball thrown or hit into the crowd. This technique can be quite forceful at times, and one poor girl was hit smack in the face by the ball. She didn’t seem to mind though, and proceeded to sign and then have her card appear in the inside of a brand new deck opened in front of her eyes on stage.
Derren Brown has cited Clifford (right) as one of his magical heroes, and Clifford has helped the former Bristol magician on both his stage and television shows as a consultant.
The similarities between the two are clear, although in this solo show, entitled I Can’t Believe My Mind, the amiable Clifford stays more within the traditional realms of magic than his famous pupil although a bit of mind-reading does creep in.
This is a show that is billed as bringing magic to the mysteries of time and space and playing with the puzzles of perception, using our own senses to mislead and amaze.
Our senses were certainly bamboozled right from before the show had even started, with Clifford sharing some of his favourite optical illusions with the audience as they made their way to their seats.
From then on, he carefully made his way through the five senses, the sense of touch working particularly well. He used touch to locate specific playing cards in his pocket. And he also used it to trick an audience member into thinking that coat hangers had passed through her skin.
It was very clever magic, always performed by Clifford with a glint in his eye and a touch of humour. Like a chess grandmaster, he was several steps in front of everybody else while also balancing many tricks at the same time.
The evening’s denouement pieced together everything that had gone before to leave open mouths and looks of pure bewilderment as Clifford transformed what initially seemed like a mistake into a stunning conclusion to this hugely enjoyable show.
Peter Clifford: I Can’t Believe My Mind is at the Brewery Theatre until January 9. Visit www.tobaccofactorytheatre.com/shows/detail/i_cant_believe_my_mind.