Top magician Dynamo conjuring up intimate shows at Belfast hotel this weekend
David Roy catches up with top magician Dynamo as he returns to Belfast with his new show The Abandoned Room
WITH his impressive CV boasting top qualifications including 'crowd-pulling street magician with celebrity fans', 'top-rated TV conjurer' and 'arena-filling illusionist', the past 15 years have seen Steven Frayne AKA Dynamo firmly establishing himself as an elite magic man.
His latest endeavour is The Abandoned Room, which finds the Bradford-born trickster stripping away the slick visuals, disappearing DeLoreans and show-stopping displays of levitation that made his Seeing Is Believing tour such a big draw in 2015.
Instead, the new show finds Frayne ditching big set-pieces in favour of intimacy, performing close-up magic in small rooms with less than 200 tickets available per show – at premium prices.
Having launched with a residency at London's luxury Mandrake Hotel, the Abandoned Room's Times Are Gone For Honest Men tour is currently on the road and headed for Belfast's Europa Hotel this weekend.
"The response I get there is always amazing," enthuses Frayne of his previous visits to Belfast.
"This time is particularly exciting for me as it's a much more intimate show than I've done in the past – there's only 150 people per show. It's kind of going back to my roots when I first started performing.
"I loved doing the small intimate shows, but as I got more success it became harder and harder to do them because so many people wanted to see me. I kind of felt like I owed it to them to do the big shows so that everyone could come and see."
The Abandonded Room was also born of necessity: Frayne has Crohn's disease, and a bout of serious food poisoning last year required a course of medication which left him bloated and rash-riddled.
Even worse, arthritis in his hands caused by the treatment meant he struggled to perform basic magic tricks for a time.
Clearly, a return to the physical, arena-geared magical antics of his previous tour was going to be a feat beyond even Dynamo's powers.
"I was in a position where I didn't even think I'd be able to perform again," admits Frayne of this low ebb.
Thankfully, the relentless positivity that's been a driving force in his career to date did not let him down, helping him to turn adversity into opportunity.
"Once I started to get a bit better, I thought this is a perfect chance to kind of go back to my roots: let's try to do a small show and see how I do," he tells me of The Abandoned Room's genesis.
"It was kind of me finding my feet again. There's nowhere to hide on that stage, you can hear a pin drop and you can see everything. For me, the magic in this show is almost more personal because the whole concept and all the magic I do in it is all new material that I created while I was in hospital while I was recovering.
"I was told I might not be able to use my hands again in the way I used to, so I ended up creating a show where I empower the audience – most of the magic you'll see in this show is actually performed by audience members.
"It's risky, because you never know who you're going to get on stage with you, but in some respects it's reinvigorated my love of magic even more. It kind of keeps me on my toes."
In other words, if you've ever seen Dynamo in action live or on his TV hit Magician Impossible and thought "I could do that", now's your chance to put your money where your mouth is and have a go under his direct supervision.
And you never know who else might be in the Abandoned Room alongside you: having amassed celebrity fans from Gwyneth Paltrow and Will Smith to Tinie Tempah and One Direction over the years, it seems the famous faces keep popping up in Dynamo's crowds.
"Rod Stewart was at the last show and so was [former Stone Roses frontman] Ian Brown," enthuses Frayne.
"That's the crazy thing with this tour: because the shows are so small, you could be sat there beside one of your idols watching them perform magic!"
:: Dynamo, March 2 & 3, The Europa Hotel, Belfast. Shows at 7pm and 9pm, tickets and info at Abandoned-room.com/dynamo-tour/