Magic on the Mersey
The Aloft, Liverpool
Reviewed by Quentin Reynolds
Growing up in magic I always enjoyed reading reports of magicians like Charles Bertram who frequently performed in the drawing rooms of private homes. These shows have a warm intimate atmosphere and lend themselves well to banter with the audience.
Steve Price has taken a season in one of the grand rooms at Liverpool's Aloft Hotel. He takes us through a plethora a magic classics with never a pack of cards in sight, (although three effects do use playing cards of varying sizes).
He opens strongly with the Anderson T&R Newspaper swiftly followed by the Sucker Vanishing Glass and the Serpent Silk. Steve ties the show together by telling us of his own journey through magic, the tricks he encountered and some of the magicians he met.
An invisible deck is handed to an audience member and while no actual deck is involved, the invisible chosen card is found inside an envelope. Strong! Steve shows his skill with a pleasant billiard ball routine, the Gypsy Thread and the Bending Mirror, all performed with quiet humour. Next a quick Rubik's Cube effect followed by the Leopard Silk.
Avoiding the popular Sidewalk Shuffle, Steve goes with Chase The Ace using giant cards. The last person I recall doing this was Ken Brooke. Some mentalism next as we are treated to a matching ESP routine, again people making choices from their seats. Banknotes to Pocket follows with some witty patter.
Now it's time for a rant. I am totally fed up watching magicians do rope tricks that seem to involve every known move. Not just Steve. They are all at it. If you are going to do a C&R rope routine, please cut and restore the rope, even do it a few times in case the audience didn't realise what the effect was the first time. But why, why do you have to add jumping ends, sliding knots, making circles, putting ends back on, cutting with fingers, stretching the ropes, over and over again? Please magicians, have mercy on your audiences and stop subjecting them to such confusion and tedium. The best contemporary C&R rope routine I've seen is Fay Presto's. And she does it close-up, at tables, under their noses and she really cuts the rope with a scissors and leaves them baffled. Rant over.
To revive the audience there is a fun interlude with the Electric Deck, the Lyle Hat Tear and the Señor Mardo Egg Bag. It's refreshing to see this as there are many moves not possible with the now standard Malini bag.
An encounter with the Magic Square that finishes with a prediction got a good response and Steve followed with the Selbit Blocks which is a difficult effect to sell to an audience as it entirely depends on pace and rhythm. Steve did an excellent job and it flowed and built to a strong climax. I suspect the Sympathetic Silks is fairly new to Steve and both I and the two friends I was with thought it needed more work.
Much to my surprise what followed was one of the highlights of the show and received an amazing reaction from the audience. Surprise for me in that it is not an effect that I would have expected to see in a stand-up show but the audience was enthralled throughout. It's Angelo Carbone's On Edge, the card balancing effect. Overall Steve's show is good and solid with strong classic effects. So why did this stand out so strongly? Contrast? Variety? I'm still wondering!
A nicely paced Hydrostatic Glass routine brings the show to a big finish and much applause.
There were four children in the front row, the oldest being seven and all paying full attention throughout. That says a lot.
Because Steve is mainly a cruise ship performer where currently onstage audience participation is prohibited, and where the show length is 50 minutes max, could be why there was no on stage participation. In a 75 minute show, as this is, it would add a change of pace and texture.
You will enjoy this show and be sure to bring some family and friends. It's good value and you are supporting live entertainment. Details at www.magiconthemersey.com.
© Quentin Reynolds, September 2021