It has been over two years since Sheffield-based magician Steve Faulkner started hosting his much-lauded magic nights. For the 125 or so lucky individuals crammed into the back room of the Greystones, this is an increasingly rare treat. Steve has established a hub of entertainment, bringing a stellar list of the top names in magic to the welcoming Sheffield crowd. The usually titled Monday Night Magic has never failed to be a sell-out across the six or seven shows Steve has hosted so far, including special shows for Sheffield Fright Night. While the day has changed to a Friday for this particular show, the structure and outcome has remained the same.
Steve himself is an accomplished magician, having earned a reputation as one of the best sleight of hand magicians in the country. He spent 15 years as a street performer, so he knows how to engage the crowd and create a warm atmosphere.
While he always proclaims he is only there to host and introduce the guests, it would be unfair to say that Steve plays second fiddle to any of them. A generous host indeed, but his own act delights and entertains. His signature trick is the traditional cups and balls. A trick as old as the hills, originating from street swindlers, there is a reason it endures. I have had the opportunity to see this on a number of occasions and it’s always a crowd-pleaser.
The first invited guest was Andi Gladwin. Andi performed mind reading and mathematical tricks which staggered the crowd. His set included a variety of tricks involving members of the audience with an apparent free choice. Whether it was picking a card or a number, he left the audience with looks of bewilderment and dropped jaws. In an age where TV magicians – whose greatest trick is to make their personality disappear – employ camera tricks, elaborate sets and stand-ins in order to amaze the viewing public, it’s satisfying to see someone do it in front of you and leave you none the wiser.
The second act proved a little more problematic. John Holt is an accomplished magician, but was introduced to the audience as a magician doing a set without any tricks. This turned out to be a straight forward stand-up set. The crowd was willing John to succeed, but it always felt a little out of place in the context of the overall night. The material was fairly standard observational fare, discussing the difficulties of parenthood and having children.
In the past the Monday Magic Shows have proven to be just the right place to experiment in front of a welcoming and forgiving crowd. However, there is a difference between trying out a new trick and trying out a wholly different profession, and it did lead to a drop in the energy in the room although John was a really likeable performer.
Steve re-energised the audience after the interval with a new, stomach-churning trick involving swallowing needles. This would have been curtain raising on its own, but the third and final invitee was headliner John Archer. John is currently taking a break from touring with comedian Tim Vine and was on top form, touting a combination of comedy, magic and ukuleles. The quips were relentless and, coupled with some great magic, the act has the audience finishing on a real high. You get the feeling he could have carried on for another hour without breaking a sweat.
A special mention should also go to Brian and Margaret, the glamorous volunteers assisting throughout the evening and reflected the great crowd at the Greystones. Those who attended will no doubt be looking forward to the next instalment of Steve’s magic night, whenever that may occur. To see four top magicians for £12 is magic in itself.
Words: Iain McDonald.