With summer season shows vanishing faster than a magician’s assistant down a trap door you’ve got hand it to anyone prepared to try and keep the entertainment flag flying.
It’s the sixth season that master illusionist Richard de Vere has staged his own show in the venue where he previously headlined the much missed Mystique show and whist Beyond Belief is nothing like the scale of that innovative production it does become bigger and a degree more slicker every summer.
Fronting Mystique, De Vere was very much a man of mystery – all meaningful stares and big scale scary illusions. These days it’s more hands to the pump time with comedy patter and sketches borrowed from a variety of sources, audience participation and, heavens forfend, a stab at song and dance too, all taking their place alongside the well executed tricks.
It contains all the ingredients of a value for money family show – even now boasting a miniature (though rapidly growing) Schnorbaby making a brief and subdued appearance alongside his larger, more unpredictable dad Schnorbitz Snr.
The show sets out its stall with a fast moving introduction by this year’s other new ingredient – the three attractive Beyond Belief Dancers who double as magician’s assistants and chorus girls, together with show regular Mark Lawlor, who ably tackles vocal material from the likes of Michael Buble, Take That and most things inbetween, sometimes without interruption from De Vere.
Most of the illusions will be familiar to his enthusiastic and loyal fan base and will still mystify those newer to his act.
A master of magic maybe but he’s no great ad libber (all right, how was he to know his “volunteer” child would be from Kuwait and didn’t speak English?), sometimes pushing the patience of certain audience members (soaking one woman to the skin and annoying at least one other with off the cuff remarks) and still seeming far from confident joining his cast in the Will Rogers Follies seated dance routine once famous at Funnygirls.
Speciality act Mr Slava seemed oddly nervous for someone with years of experience behind him – ironically better with five balls than three.
Guest magician Oliver Tabor impresses with a modern slant on cards, doves and stringed instruments of all shapes and sizes.
With a bit of editing here and a touch of tightening the show will run more smoothly and provide an invaluable addition to the summer scene.
n Beyond Belief runs each Sunday, Monday and Tuesday for the season.