Piff the Magic Dragon: Piff-tacular 2 - Get Rich Or Die Trying

Chihuahuas always look terrified. Right? Mr Piffles, the true star of this show, certainly does: every time he is introduced by his master Piff – the dragon-suited alter ego of John van der Put – he trembles as if he’d rather be curled up in a slipper backstage. Throughout this show, I had to keep reassuring myself – and the worried girl behind me – that no dogs were being sacrificed in the name of art. I don’t think she was entirely convinced. Much could my said of my own reaction to this show. A word-of-mouth hit during last year’s Free Fringe, Piff is a superb creation. A big green dragon doing magic, with a white Chihuahua for an assistant – what more could you ask? The pin-sharp opening routine, palming a cigarette as it disappears and reappears, is evidence of van der Put’s undoubted talent, but this is one of the high points in an otherwise lethargic show. Piff relies heavily on interactions with the audience: like most magic acts, unsuspecting victims are invited on stage to assist. Piff’s patter, though, is never quick enough or funny enough to atone for the slackening of pace that these bring about. One particularly tortuous routine, involving a £20 note and its exasperatingly slow-witted owner, served only to sap the energy of the show, leaving us wanting to see more of Piff (and Piffles) and less of the ineptitude of the Fringe-going public. Piff seems to be caught between the stools of polished magic show and absurdist character comedy. The dragon is a nice conceit, but distracts from the magic: most tricks go on so long that by the reveal we’ve entirely forgotten their point. There are some excellent moments here, and an impressive magical repertoire, but everything needs sharpening and polishing to give it a slicker, more professional sheen. And the dog? As lovely as he is, lose the dog - I think he's earned his retirement.

Since you’re here…

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The Blurb

Lock up your princesses! Piff's back with brand new tricks and a magic performing Chihuahua... This time he means business. 'Unbelievable' (BBC1). 'Standing room only' - **** (BroadwayBaby.com).

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