The Magic Circle Christmas Show 2001
Reviewed & photographed by John Derris

The unanimous opinion of the departing audience from the 2001 Magic Circle Show declared "the best Circle Christmas Magic Show we've seen" and what a show it was. With a stunning black art opening devised by Scott Penrose Dominic Wood made his appearance and worked front cloth with tricks, stunts, mime, songs, ventriloquism and patter that confirmed his reputation as a top TV star coupled with introductions of each act.


Opening was Rousseau with his well-known act "Magic of the Boulevards" whereby an elegantly dressed Parisian suitor awaits his date beneath a lamp post on the "Rue de Magie." He passes the time by smoking cigarettes which appear continuously, followed by cigars, a meerschaum pipe, a glass of wine, flowers, billiard balls, silk handkerchiefs and a clove. His date never appears but he is consoled by the magical appearance of the materialistic comforts. This is a very smooth well-worked act that has been honed around the world and won awards at magic conventions that draws spontaneous applause as things appear to the joint surprise of the audience and Rousseau.


Next was John Archer, very very funny and a very good magician. A big man with a big talent who has made a name for himself in recent years. Walking on with a kettle on his head saying "the wife told me to put the kettle on" indicated the very funny patter and sight gags with which he blitzes the audience drawing continuous laughter. His humour, ad-libbing and timing was very funny and not over the heads of the children present indicating the long experience he has had on the comedy scene. His is a genuine and original act in the magic arena that is far ahead of some magicians who resort to the questionable zone of alternative comedy. And don't overlook his magic - it's top drawer. John Archer is one of the few who currently gives real credence to the title - comedy magician.


During the interval some excellent "magic under your nose" was very professionally presented in the Devant Room by John Gordon, Mike O'Brien and Mandy Muden. A fact-filled visit to the Museum was expertly presented by Henry Lewis and Geoffrey Bowmer and downstairs, in the clubroom there was time for refreshments, a chat and a chance to see even more close-up wonders presented by Brian King and David Weeks (photo), celebrating his first successful year as a full-time professional.


After the interval it was back to the theatre to see an act that has brought a lifetime of professional success for its originator. Larry Parker in oversize tails, fringe, spectacles on the end of his nose, meaningless, bumbling conversation occasionally punctuated with a surprised - ahhhh! - and an animated rabbit with a mind of its own that almost takes over the act. This is a world travelled presentation that has scored in countries everywhere due to the clever international interpretation of comedy that he has created linked to his mobile expressive face that reminds one of a Disney cartoon. Although a comedy act wrapped around his continuous imbibing from a bottomless bottle of whisky, canes appear, tumblers move around a table by themselves, rings not only link to each other but also engage with the buttonholes of his tail suit, his scissors and the microphone stand. And magic is always present. But what makes this such a unique and professional act is his facial expressions and his body language which added to good magic and good visual comedy confirms why Larry Parker has enjoyed a lifetime of success in cabarets and theatres around the world.


A good magic show should close with a spectacular and there is nothing more spectacular than Daniel Dean and Company, illusion winner at the last Blackpool Magic Championships. With an abundance of youth, music, colour, movement and illusions that are beyond belief in the spectators eyes. The head twister, cube penetration and an excellent floating lady and other very visual magic and illusions are all highlighted by the sheer enthusiasm and athleticism that Daniel and his attractive assistants add to the presentation. He brought a first-class magic show to a very warmly applauded conclusion which underlined the quality of magic to be seen at this annual bonanza staged by The World's Premier Magic Society.


What makes this a successful production is not only the performers on stage but the whole team of members and friends of the Circle - the stage crew, technicians, administrators, publicists and catering staff who faithfully meld together each Christmas to create what has clearly become a regular and much anticipated feature on the London Christmas theatre scene. Several of the audience have already booked for next year. Now that's success.

John Derris, January 2002