Max Somerset Lecture

York Society of Magicians

12th March 2008
Reviewed by Rex Stott

There were high winds and even higher expectations on Wednesday 12 March 2008 when Max Somerset of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice fame came to York to lecture. Max had just flown earlier that day from Antigua but there was no sign of jet lag as he immediately captured the attention of the “standing-room-only” audience with his Cups and Balls routine. To describe it as simply that does not do justice to its sheer brilliance but if I give any clue regarding the loads produced in the series of multi-layered climaxes, it will spoil it for those who have not yet been able to see him. And see him you must! Not to do so would mean missing one of the most original, innovative, theatrical and entertaining lectures I have seen since I first saw Bob Read. Believe me, Max Somerset is in that class!

He skilfully performed and clearly explained four effects which he had on sale - a flash bottle production which was part of the Cups and Balls routine (I told you there was a Bob Read link), Colour Operthy (a colour divination routine), Nursery Rhyme Deck and Fiction Fish (I won’t mention the goldfish – I don’t want to spoil it for you). He performed but did not explain his latest masterpiece The Great British Watch Smash which he said that he had derived specifically to fry Stephen Fry – and it did! He also had available some beautifully produced lecture notes which covered the whole lecture and more.

But this lecture was not about tricks; it is about watching a multi-talented young man – actor, magician, musician, entertainer – at work and what a privilege it was. At Hull Magicians’ Circle on the following night and at the York Society’s Annual Dinner people were still talking about the evening. It would have done justice to the programmes of Blackpool and the IBM – bookers take note! Throughout all the fun and merriment there were clear and consistent messages which were about encouraging divergent thinking, about bringing spectators into the whole process, and about “putting magic pennies in a piggy bank” and saving them to ensure applause. You’d have to see him just to appreciate the wisdom of that last message.

Representatives from Hull, Wakefield, Scarborough, Harrogate and Darlington joined a large turnout of the York members and eminent guests included John Kimmons, Children’s Entertainer of the Year, 2008 and this year’s winner of the Ken Dodd Comedy Award, and Eddie Dawes H.M.C President. Heart-warmingly, there were several members of Humberside Young Magicians Workshop also present.


© Rex Stott, York Society of Magicians, March 2008