Review: Smoke & Mirrors theatre pub

When it comes to picking a venue for a night out in Bristol, it’s fair to say that you’re almost spoilt for choice. Whether you fancy drinking cocktails, dancing the night away or listening to some great live music, the city centre has something for everyone.  I have been to my fair share of places over the years, but I have never experienced a magic bar – until now that is.

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On Saturday night* four of us went along to Smoke & Mirrors’ renowned “The House Magicians” comedy magic show. Located on Denmark Street, just off the centre, this pub theatre is voted number one for concerts and shows in Bristol on Trip Advisor. This is a pretty impressive feat when you consider the likes of the Hippodrome and the Colston Hall, which host some pretty big events. With that in mind, it’s fair to say that my expectations for the evening were pretty high!

The bar was opened in 2012 by local magician and entrepreneur Mark Bennett, who has been performing magic as a career since 1992. He also owns Illusions Magic Bar on Clifton Triangle, a popular venue that has been entertaining Bristolians with close up magic shows since 2007.

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We arrived at 7:30pm, ordered some drinks at the bar and were then shown through to the theatre. This is a very intimate venue that only seats 48 people, complete with low lighting, and lamps on all of the tables (which are all pre-booked in advance of the show), adding to its old-school feel. We were seated a row behind the front (phew I thought, I’m sure I won’t get picked on now!) on a mixture of chairs and comfy stools.

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The room began to steadily fill up (it looked like the show was fully booked and was clearly popular) and shortly afterwards a waitress came and took our interval drinks orders (Diet Coke for me as the designated driver, pints of lager and a G&T for my friends). Then all that was left to do was to sit back and relax as the music started and the show began.

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The first magician that took to the stage was Matthew Brady, complete with a lovely ginger beard (which he told us we couldn’t touch!) he began by telling us about his experience as a magician, and then proceeded to show us some pretty impressive card tricks that prompted lots of “ooohs” and “ahhhs” from the audience – things were off to a good start. As his set went on, he got members of the audience involved (audience participation is a big part of the show here) and I was asked to help him with one particular card trick – which was fun, if not slightly embarrassing when I managed to hand him the card I had picked face up instead of face down, ooops!

After a short 15 minute interval, our pre-ordered drinks arrived and then it was Mark Bennett’s turn to whip the crowd into a frenzie. More laughs ensued as he invited a Hen and a young guy who’s birthday it was, up to the stage to participate in some more tricks with a comedic twist, all of which were pretty impressive.

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The show finished just after 10pm to much applause and it was clear that everyone had a great time. We decided to stay for the bar’s two-for-one cocktails, as well the live music that was just starting, and the atmosphere was certainly buzzing. I also really enjoyed the fact that another magician came over to perform some close-up magic at our table whilst we had our drinks – I think it’s fair to say that we were left almost speechless by the tricks we witnessed, it was amazing!

I can wholeheartedly recommend this venue and will definitely be back again soon – it’s the perfect place for a night out with a difference, and lots of laughs are guaranteed.

Have you been to Smoke & Mirrors before? I’d love to know what you thought! Let me know by commenting below.

*Although I was invited to visit Smoke & Mirrors for the purpose of a review, the words, thoughts and opinions stated here are all my own.

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