The 47th Bristol Day of Magic
13th May 2007
Reported and photographed by Mandy Davis

Once again the Bristol Society of Magic are to be congratulated on hosting this well-attended and professional event at Weston Super Mare with top performers and lecturers. The day started with a brief welcome from the organising committee of Paul Preager, President Lewis Taylor, Barry Savage and Mandy Farrell; then it was swiftly on with the first lecture of the day.

Trixie Bond from Texas, dressed as Mary Poppins, had earlier been sitting on the floor in the foyer with a group of small children enjoying her brand of close-up magic. Now she lead them into the large hall and seated them on the floor at the foot of the platform. They ranged from a toddler to a girl of nine. We saw forty-five minutes of show and fifteen of lecture on marketing. There were many tricks from the appearance of doves at off-beat moments to that of a large rabbit from under a Happy Birthday silk. A favourite effect utilised a battered old teapot which poured three different coloured liquids into three tiered tumblers, with a silk of each of the colours being taken from the pot to be combined with a blow tube and ending with a multi-coloured silk. There was a mis-made flag routine, probably more rousing in the US, which ended with an enormous Union Flag on the end of a long pole and a very shmaltzy family moment using linking multi-coloured ropes. I particularly loved the clutch-bag style of change bag used for a Mutilated Parasol which fitted nicely into the Mary Poppins motif. Every child went home with a business card – a marketing moment indeed!

The close-up show was held twice in three rooms. There were three international award-winning performers. David Stone is known as a specialist in coin magic but is a very commercial performer too. Under a giant sheet he comically struggled to produce one coin which was used to demonstrate his immense skill. There was a bottle production and a great gag with a mobile phone. A retractable tape measure changed to a deck of cards and then the deck vanished in a fast and furious manner. David’s character was supremely funny throughout and the audience was loud in its enthusiasm. Coins to glass was neatly done and a card with an appearing and colour changing sticker was baffling. David ended with a couple of productions that even surprised him!

Manuel Muerte had a manic personality, keeping the audience laughing and amazed in turns. He opened with several productions and vanishes of a cigar and lighter before changing his tie to one he preferred. His fun with a stuffed mouse was hilarious and every time there was an apparent ending to any trick it was emphasised with a shower of confetti. A bottle of champagne production was enhanced by some great gags as was a borrowed and burnt bank note routine and more appearances of the mouse. The note was finally found inside the champagne bottle plastic cork!

Marc Oberon had added to his award-winning act since I’d last seen it. To magical background music he talked poetically through multiplying golden spheres and an appearing statuette. The theme was Midas and suddenly there was an apple which turned into gold. Some origami followed with a paper swan which also turned to gold, along with a solid egg. The music stopped for an entertaining card location sequence which included one from flames and Marc’s marketed effect Bang On. Then it was back to the music and poetry as the deck itself turned to gold and coins appeared and vanished whilst keys increased in size to end this faultlessly dramatic act.

The afternoon was ended with a one-man show featuring John Lenahan. He only performed his opening trick, Six Card Repeat, for one new gag which he wanted to share – or so he told us. Bruce Kalver’s Growing Head Illusion proved popular and John got some wonderful mileage from a book test and a spectator who didn’t understand his American accent. But throughout the show it wasn’t just the tricks which made the entertainment; the lines and gags were very well-honed and funny. His laid back style of delivery is something you can’t just buy from a dealer.

There was one problem – John’s unique Cards Across routine failed on this occasion but didn’t detract from the enjoyment, the audience feeling uplifted that anyone could have a problem on stage at any time. John recovered with a paper hat tear and Multiplying Bananas which turned the show into a semi-lecture as he explained that the banana routine had evolved during a Cannon and Ball tour. He had used it to bring his act in at exactly twelve minutes nightly to stop him accruing a fine! His next trick, a card one, had started as Lewis Ganson’s newspaper cutting one but one night he’d made a mistake cutting the shapes and ended up with the sixteen of Hearts – this got a bigger reaction than the original and now he always does this trick as a gag instead. Linking Human Beings was next and John ended the show with a nice back reference to the earlier unfound card selection as it was now displayed hanging on a rope. This show was a delight and a real highlight of the day for many.

The junior workshop featured John as well as Fay Presto and Marc Oberon with fifteen youngsters turning up full of enthusiasm for this special event. Marc taught them some coin moves, all of them learning at their own pace, Then the group was split into beginners and non-beginners. Fay took the former group and held an ‘everything you want to know about magic but were afraid to ask’ session which was greatly welcomed and enjoyed whilst John Lenahan taught several interesting and very usable card tricks along with the top change, the hindu and slop shuffles and a couple of forces. The group thoroughly enjoyed the hour and were also thrilled with a free tombola which meant that they each went home with a trick donated by either Trixie Bond or Fantasma Magic.

The evening show, at the Playhouse Theatre, proved a well balanced and entertaining one. The Boulevard Swing Band delighted the audience before the curtain rose on the Richard Cadell dancers. Mel Harvey, in a bright yellow suit and armed with a series of gags, was the evening’s MC and introduced Alex Lodge who produced various silks and mini umbrellas, a pink Dancing Handkerchief, a silk fountain to umbrella and an illuminated Dancing Cane. There was UV lighting for multi-coloured Linking Rings and a slow sequence with a Mutilated Parasol. A mishap or two along the way didn’t stop Alex’s enthusiasm and the act ended with a giant umbrella.

Keith Fields had instant rapport with the audience as he swiftly parried and dealt with a twelve year old heckler. He performed his usual comedy act from balloon sniffing to Professor’s Nightmare, adding a bowl of water production from a zipped purse-style shopping bag! There was a great knots from silk gag and loads of laughs along the way, leading to his finale of a straight-jacket escape neatly done to a Philip Marlow-style voice-over.

Scott Penrose treated the audience to his act as known but ended with Kevin James’s snow storm. In between he produced doves, filled a brandy glass with smoke, used silks to great effect as well as card manipulations and a finely choreographed card stab. The vanish of a cage of doves, to leave a large rabbit in its place, once again brought gasps from the audience.

Mel Harvey was back after the interval, this time in bright blue. Romany, Diva of Magic, burst onto the stage in a flurry of pink sashes and feathered fans. Bird cages appeared from nowhere, seemingly as much of a surprise to her as they were to us! A long sash, tied between two pedestals, was cut and restored and a bottle production followed, as well as blank notes to bank notes and Gypsy Thread. The audience loved Romany’s signature Coins Across involving two male spectators and the act ended with Linking Rings.

Norbert Ferre portrays two characters during his super act – one is giggly and quirky whilst the other is a perfect magical manipulator. A voice, distorted by a swazzle, proved very effective for getting the laughs. In between balls and then cards were beautifully worked in time to the poignant music which was enhanced by the empty setting of a single stand on the stage. Short tap dances emphasised the quirky character’s movements and led, at the end, to the revelation of the contents of a box marked ‘Surprise’. This act is a lesson in everything from character, comedy, skill, poise, use of music and limit of props – Norbert is always evolving what he does and the best just gets better!

Guy Barrett closed the show with a plethora of illusions. Some jigsaw shapes on the side of a box were rearranged to form a picture of a girl who was then revealed inside. The picture was given a costume change – and so was the girl. A Dancing Hanky followed and then a wooden sword box. Another box was brought on and a girl placed inside; this was later shown to be completely hollowed out but the girl was gone, only to reappear as the box was reassembled. There was an assistant’s revenge with Guy forced into a box to have his middle removed and reversed whilst his head stayed in place. Effects with silks were followed by a newspaper tear and then a girl was placed between the metal sides of a giant press. After being squeezed together the girl was found unharmed.

And thus ended another excellent magical day.


Photos: 1. Norbert Ferre 2.Trixie Bond 3. Romany 4. Alex Lodge 5. Keith Fields

© Mandy Davis MIMC, May 2007