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EDINBURGH 2018 - BWW Review: PIFF THE MAGIC DRAGON AND THE DOG WHO KNOWS, The Stand's New Town Theatre

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EDINBURGH 2018 - BWW Review: PIFF THE MAGIC DRAGON AND THE DOG WHO KNOWS, The Stand's New Town Theatre

EDINBURGH 2018 - BWW Review: PIFF THE MAGIC DRAGON AND THE DOG WHO KNOWS, The Stand's New Town Theatre Magic shows used to have a very distinct aesthetic. A suited and booted gentleman, accompanied by a glamourous leggy assistant, twirling and swooping through illusions to epic music.

Now, probably the biggest magic show on the Fringe involves a grumpy Englishman in a spangled dragon onesie, accompanied by an adorable chihuahua.

The concept might sound like a show for kids, but Piff the Magic Dragon delights his audiences with a deadpan delivery more akin to an insult comic than a children's entertainer; haranguing them, cheating them out of money and carping over the failings of any called upon to volunteer for a trick.

After television appearances on Penn & Teller: Fool Us and America's Got Talent, plus a Las Vegas residency, he returns to the Fringe in style this year in Piff the Magic Dragon and the Dog Who Knows, complete with a glittering Vegas showgirl in tow as proof he has truly hit the big time.

This is a slick production in a big venue, giving a feel of a full evening's show on rather reasonable Fringe prices. The use of an onstage camera projecting live video verification was useful for some of the close-up elements that would otherwise be lost in such a large theatre, allowing Piff to showcase the cardistry and conjuring, as well as the comedy, that has brought him to wide acclaim.

Piff is assisted in a myriad of tricks by the eponymous Mr Piffles, the world's only magic performing chihuahua, a captivatingly cute and placid little creature who immediately has the whole audience under his spell as he provides a tiny straight man to his draconic owner. After being treated to a little history of his Scottish origins, we see Mr Piffles appear from nowhere, solve Rubik's cubes and even lay an egg, all while staying enchantingly relaxed for a small dog in front of hundreds of people.

While the bitter, grouchy style of Piff gains plenty of laughs, and Mr Piffles is likely the most endearing act onstage this August, it is the magic that is the most important element of the show. Fortunately, for the majority of the tricks, you are left genuinely mystified and still scratching your head days later as to how they were done. On more than one occasion, Piff recovers objects from places so impossible that it cannot just be put down to sleight of hand, leaving the audience marvelling even as they laugh along.

Now that Piff is such a big name in the world of magic, it is a real treat that he has returned with his unique performance style to this year's Fringe. Whether you are a long-term lizard lover or new to the ways of the dragon, you will not be disappointed if you buy a ticket before they inevitably disappear.

As a bonus, despite his disgruntled demeanour, Piff and his team are available at the end of the show for free photos - you even get to hold the magic chihuahua!

Piff the Magic Dragon and the Dog Who Knows is at The Stand's New Town Theatre until 26 August


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