Blackpool's European Close-up
Report and photos by Mandy Davis
This close up competition takes place in three rooms with the judges sitting in
the largest one; spectators also have the benefit of a large screen. I was
sitting in the innermost room which gave a different running order and sometimes
Steve Evans opened by producing an elephant – a small plastic one - which was immediately followed by a bottle of champagne. With his usual great humour and appeal he produced a giant coin from the bottle and then caused it to reappear invisibly inside! The fun continued with great by-play as two spectators failed to win cash by naming unmatched cards and a signed piece of paper turned up inside the cap of a pen used earlier. A giant battery fell from a card box as a card was chosen but, contrary to expectations, the card didn’t rise from the box – the entire deck fell from the bottom of it leaving just the selection!
James Brown performed a watch steal as he brought his first spectator forward but, as James returned to fetch another, the man indicated to his friend that he was aware of the steal which somehow spoiled the moment for the rest of us! Cards were merely thought of and found under the box on the table, then the whole deck was discovered there with a selected card inside it. A muscle palm heralded the start of James’ well known routine in which a coin appeared and disappeared to be found on the spectator’s shoulder and under his watch. This was, as usual, a fast paced routine and played well.
Mark Shortland opened with a super gag about being under pressure. He asked three people to draw on three blank cards and used another great gag with different coloured pens before changing these all to black. Mark was able to match two of the drawings with their owners and then draw a matching picture to the last one. He also performed some Ambitious Card moves with a selected card finally being found folded inside the card box. Again humour was the key and Mark came third in the competition.
Martin Cox also opened with a gag – this time involving a balloon. To theme music from a sci-fi film he used mime as he changed the colours of playing cards’ backs several times before proving all were blank on both sides. The music ended and Martin continued with some coin work, then returning to cards with a selection returned to the deck before jumping out unaided! There was some fun with the card disappearing to reappear inside an invisible deck and then in an ‘invisible’ wallet. Finally a wooden folding chair was hypnotised to collapse at will.
Jerome Burgeon from France performed as a character wearing Harry Potteresque glasses. The act was silent with appropriate magical music. From a large suitcase he removed a wand and a large old book which suddenly became a miniature version. He then sat at a table to perform a cups and balls routine. At one point there were four cups on the table and the book moved unaided towards the wand as it lay on the table. The final loads of red crystal balls were very in keeping with the mysticism and the quirky feel of the act which ended as Jerome walked from the table with the book which became large again. He was a worthy winner of the Championship.
Marcus Taylor is a very young man who opened his act with some work using small crochet balls which appeared and disappeared in his fists and his pockets. Four Jokers had colour-changing backs as did his complete deck. Four Kings became Aces and then both values were used for various routines involving transpositions and disappearances before the complete deck was shown to be blank.
Mel Partner was the only female in the competition. Her Cut and Restored rope routine involved patter about magicians’ assistants being sawn in half. She continued with four cards being selected and all proved to be Aces. These then turned over one by one in Mel’s hand before being shown as four Queens. A selected card was found in the deck behind Mel’s back and it was used for an accomplished torn and restored effect using flash paper.
Olmac was also from France. He had performed a routine to music for the judges and also in the second room but had decided not to reset for us; instead he offered us ‘something different’ which turned out to be card work. A named card was found in a shuffled deck and signed. The three matches to it were located and the cards replaced, then found in different ways. These were variously spun out of the deck, found under the box and disappeared one by one ending with the entire deck in Olmac’s pocket and the four selected cards in his hand. His act in the other rooms won him second place in the competition.
The competition this year was of an extremely high standard – well done to all who took part.
Winners (and photo order above)
1st Place - Jerome Bergeon 1st
2nd Place - Olmac
3rd Place - Mark Shortland
© Mandy Davis, March 2007