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Jamie Raven Live on Stage review at the Magic Circle, London – ‘classic close-up magic’

Jamie Raven Live on Stage at the Magic Circle, London. Photo: Steve Lee
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Before reaching the final of Britain’s Got Talent in 2015, Jamie Raven had been successfully carving a career as a professional close-up magician. The blaze of national attention generated by the television show highlighted his self-effacing style, which flies in the face of street-smart illusionists such as Troy Von Scheibner or the measured showmanship of Derren Brown. Raven comes across as an older brother figure, slightly scruffy but able to make you laugh with his casual patter.

Jamie Raven Live on Stage cashes in on his BGT fame. The show opens with a montage of his appearances on the programme. His first set features the trick that got him through to the final, although he playfully exchanges a lemon for an orange, from which he extracts a previously signed five pound note. It’s an obvious crowd-pleaser but it is essentially a piece of close-up magic and as such, loses something when performed on a big stage, without the benefit of cameras and a big screen.

While explaining the theories of palming and pre-sets, Raven delivers a batch of classic, familiar tricks but they each have a twist at the end to bamboozle even the most cynical and sen-it-all of crowds. Where Raven really comes into his own however, is engaging with his audience. He has a rapport with young people that serves him well and while he may have lost BGT to a three-legged dog, this tour could easily form the bedrock to a successful career on stage.

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Good-natured close-up magic act that struggles to flourish in a theatre setting