Haverhill Arts Centre – Friday 5th May 2017 – £14.00each
ARMY OF WON-DER
Cavalryman and Britain’s Got Talent 2016 winner Lance Corporal Richard Jones brought the first leg of his magical theatre tour to a close last Friday with a sell-out performance at the diminutive Haverhill Arts Centre in Suffolk. The tour will resume in Windsor in August, after Jones performs his competition-winning blend of magic and mind-reading on this year’s BGT live finals as the vacating-champion.
It’s always encouraging when a big name doesn’t forget the provinces, and even more of a coup when said big name concentrates solely on the provinces, in lieu of the traditional major city dates. But Jones’ The Power of Imagination benefits from a more intimate venue, and Haverhill’s 210-seater was perfect for the Essex-born magician’s chatty, audience participation-heavy set of card tricks and spooky mind games.
At just 90minutes including a 20minute interval, it was brisk-but-buoyant show with Jones’ charm instantly clear. The opening ten minutes was largely trick-free, with Jones building up to a big “wow” moment by purposefully mis-guessing audience member’s chosen numbers and animals. “I bet I can guess what you’re thinking…” he teased the crowd, before revealing a notepad with the crawled words “This guy’s rubbish!” on it.
Visually the show was restrained and surprisingly stripped back, lacking the grandiose splendour of his final-winning TV performance. But where Jones excelled was in his innate ability to entertain. His banter felt natural and his laidback vibe made his jaw-dropping tricks all the more astonishing and hard to believe. He made magic look effortless and often built-in scripted “mistakes” in order to delay the reveal and increase the impact.
From sealed envelopes revealing answers he couldn’t possibly have known prior to show time to personally marked banknotes disappearing before turning up inside fruit, Jones does not reinvent the wheel with The Power of Imagination, but he does deliver a knock-out performance with a cheeky smile and many a “how-does-he-do-that?!” moment. I just wish it could have lasted longer.
CR@B’s Claw Score: