Fay Presto
At The Ipswich Magical Society
21st August 2006
Reviewed by Simon Shaw

This was a lecture like no other lecture I have seen before. In front of the stage area there was a table beautifully laid out as if for an expensive restaurant dinner. Seated at this table were 6 genuine lay people (excuse the expression) whose only information had been that they were going to be entertained by a magician.

Fay began by introducing herself to the table then quickly started her well polished act. She began by finding out if it was anyone’s birthday and then opening a conveniently chilled bottle of champagne. Unfortunately for Graham P. Jolley who was sitting in the front row at the time there was an unfortunate ricochet off of the ceiling and the cork hit him squarely in the chest. Much to everyone’s relief Graham saw the funny side of this and led the room in laughter.

Fay poured Champagne for the six guests and the magical entertainment began. To my horror though her opening effect was the burnt and restored napkin. I say horror and I do exaggerate a little, but you have to understand that just before the lecture started the building caretaker had taken me aside and warned me that they have just had new smoke detectors fitted that are over sensitive. He went on to ask that if we wanted to smoke could we not just go outside but move well away from the doors otherwise we would be likely to have the Fire Brigade turn up.

So where was Fay standing? That’s right. Right underneath a smoke detector! Well I wanted to say something and evidently there was a look of panic on my face at the time, but I made an executive decision and decided not to interrupt the magicienne mid flow. Well, either that or I was just frozen on the spot.

As it happened it seems the smoke detectors weren’t as sensitive as everybody thought and the effect went just as expected, with gasps of astonishment from the six at the table.

The act was Fay’s usual act that she has been doing so well for so many years. It included classics like the brainwave deck, coin in bottle and naturally one of her signature pieces, bottle through table, however there was also a rather nice signed card in bottle effect which went down very well.

The spectators all thoroughly enjoy themselves taking into account the weirdness of the situation. One, it could be said was a little aggressive and was determined to see what was being done. It was a real pleasure to see the ease at which Fay handled him. Talking to this gentleman afterwards it was clear that he was one of the most impressed with the performance.

Once Fay had finished the act – perhaps 10 minutes of non stop magic, the 6 guests were asked to leave and the lecture proper commenced.

At the request of Fay, the act part of the lecture had been recorded and we now played it back on a large screen discussing in detail all the subtle little points that so often get missed. I should mention at this point that the videoing was done by Barrie James and that did a fantastic job. Videoing an act like this is not as easy as it looks, and yet he managed to zoom in and out at exactly the right times so we could see both audience reactions and what Fay’s was doing.

The lecture itself was one of the most lively two way discussions I have seen for a while with questions being asked and answered at an amazing rate. I doubt there was anyone in the room who not only got an awful lot from the evening but also had a thoroughly enjoyable time as well. Certainly that is what I was told afterwards so I know it wasn’t just me that thought it was superb.

After the lecture many of us adjourned to the pub where the conversations and magic demonstrations continued, including another of Fay’s signature pieces, her own special variation to Card on Ceiling (or Card on pin board as it actually was in this situation).

It didn’t all end there either. Normally at this point some of us will eat fish and chips in the car park before we go home. This time however, Ally and Roy Riley, good friend’s of Fays had set up a table in the car park, complete with knives, forks, candles and canopy. So our late night supper ended up as this quite surreal meal in the middle of a car park in the centre of Ipswich.

In fact the Fish & Chip shop owner was so impressed he even came back with some free battered pineapple rings for pudding.

Oh What a night! (as I believe Frankie Valli once said back in December ’63)

© Simon Shaw, September 2006




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