As a show that takes place at lunchtime, it's to be expected that a large percentage of the audience would be children - and that was indeed the case. The Quizzical Mr Jeff has pitched his show to be family-friendly, and has succeeded in achieving a balance between spellbinding magic and slapstick humour, in a way that keeps everyone entertained.
Starting with a captivating performance with a floating levitation stick, Mr Jeff soon had the audience enthralled. But it seems Mr Jeff is able to levitate and twirl a whole range of items. A jacket... a ball.... a coat...
Mr Jeff is a master of levitating and twirling many objects
He can also twirl an amazing number of hoops and create them into elegant formations. You'll (almost) believe a man can fly! This photo was taken early in the act; there were (I think) twice the number of hoops by the end of the act.
One of Mr Jeff's signature acts is a giant balloon, which he inflates on stage. One large balloon, one air pump, inflating in front of a live audience - what could possibly go wrong? Well the most basic of things, actually. The balloon had an obvious series of small holes in it, meaning there was no way it was going to inflate. It's always a sign of a performer's maturity and stage presence as to how they respond when confronted with such a problem. So it's to Mr Jeff's credit that he didn't miss a beat, swiftly moving on to another forte - hat twirling.
Yet another skill is puppetry. Imagine Boris the flying white dove, and Buttons the cat asleep in its basket. But if the flying dove escapes from its cage, and the cat is hungry, then what happens?! Yikes! Feathers could fly. It's beautifully handled by Mr Jeff.
As with all good shows, there's a memorable finale. I'm not going to spoil any secrets, except to say that it ends with a cascade of bubbles. The kids go wild and so do we.
Finale - a cascade of bubbles
What's really lovely about having children in the audience is getting immediate and unfiltered feedback. My favourite line was from one young girl, perhaps providing an explanation to a sibling about how a particular illusion was performed: 'well don't forget, he IS magical'. And another young girl, standing near us in the aisle (to get a better view), 'oh WOW! That is SO COOL!'. Well, what else do I need to say? I loved the show and the kids did too. Mr Jeff, you are an amazing talent to be able to please all age brackets. It's a rich magical variety show with lots of laughs along the way.
The Quizzical Mr Jeff plays at 12.30pm each day until Saturday 10th July, at The Houdini Theatre – Arrow Hub, 488 Swanston St, Melbourne.
Tickets are full - $26, concession - $20. Click here to buy tickets online. Note that due to COVID-safe restrictions, there are no ticket sales at the door.
The running time is 50 minutes.
This is a family-friendly show, suitable for audiences aged 5 plus.
The images in this article were taken by the writer.