According to the neat-suited Paul Dabek, the Magic Circle demands that all its members must include a card trick at some point in their act, otherwise there's a terrible risk of 'magic' becoming interesting. Strange as it might seem, that's precisely the kind of sharp-edged, self-deprecating humour that Dabek uses so successfully to charm his audience. When he's not castigating them for forgetting to applaud, of course.
Dabek belongs to the more forceful, prickly style of stage magicians–it's little surprise that Paul Daniels gets a (slightly rude) name-check, and it's not just because they share a first name. Unlike Daniels, though, Dabek has the clear advantage of being much easier on the eye and possessing an energetic charm which makes it easy for him to take charge as soon as he steps up on the stage. You might not be able to relax entirely, especially if you're sat near the front, but you immediately sense that that, with Dabek, you're in for an entertaining time.
He works the room with consummate ease, sizing up the audience, drawing them in and flirting outrageously with the likes of Becky from Melbourne, to whom he returned repeatedly during the show, building up a comic riff that has the audience in stitches. At the same time, there's no doubt who's in charge; on the night of this review, he successfully turned 'the room' very quickly against the heckler in its midst.
If you're looking for astounding and over-the-top magic tricks then Dabek's focus on ropes, disappearing bottles and lost banknotes inside fruit will impress only with the fluidity and 'how did he do THAT?!' ease with which they're performed. It's significant, however, that he initially appears to be in no hurry to do his first trick; as the title of this year's show suggests, Dabek is flexing his comedic muscles with considerably effective results. Whether you're talking about off-the-cuff asides, or running gags such as him including 'arty' mime and dance in order (supposedly) to justify some Arts Council funding, Dabek will have you in the palm of his hand. In a good way, of course.