Nottingham Guild of Magicians

Evening of Magic and Illusion
18th September 2005
Reported by Graham Harper

Move over Robin Hood... Daniels is in Town!

The compact and friendly Bonington Theatre, Arnold, Nottingham provided the venue for the Nottingham Guild of Magicians latest and most adventurous “Evening of Magic & Illusion” on Sunday 18th September 2005.

Masterminded by President Freddie Wilkinson and Andrew Morrison (who was also stage manager on the night) they'd conjured up yet another stunning line up of talent.

Top of the bill and indeed the second half of the show, the one and only Paul Daniels – more of him later.

The loyal Muggles who support this venture year in and year out were full of anticipation at the prospect of the star-studded feast of magic about to unfold.

Ali Bongo opened and compèred throughout – each introduction punctuated by classics of magic all with a unique Bongo twist. He earned a true belly laugh when a spirit slate informed him “Don’t call us we’ll call you!” Ali still has suave appeal.

Moira Fletcher kicked the show off with a demonstration of unabashed magical patriotism when, to up beat Scottish tunes, she decorated the stage with shades of tartan of innumerate clans and a large cross of St Andrew as a closer. The feel-good factor of this performance – even for Sassenachs was immense.

Bunny Neill followed, insisting he is just a storyteller. He oozed calm, fascination and eventually more razor blades appeared from his mouth than you can shake a magic wand at. His story telling is the canvas backdrop for a tidy and compelling presentation of enchanting magic. Tell us a story anytime Bunny!

Ali Cardabra had the stage next with his tribute to “ Charlie” – Chaplin of course. Ali brings the great clown back to life in an incomparable manner and the routine with apparently non-compliant deck chair was fascinating. Later drawing gasps when it apparently takes proper form but promptly collapses when introduced to “Charlie’s” nether regions. An act constructed around meticulous study and superb execution.

To close the first half - hilarity and then some in the shape of 72 year old Michael Pearse, it’s difficult enough to keep an audience in stitches with a non stop barrage of very funny explanations of his for bearers misfortunes, but to accompany this with the bizarre balancing of 3 golf clubs, (four irons for the purists) juggling and gravity defying Diablo manoeuvres is skill itself. His final feat was to snatch the tablecloth from beneath a set tea tray – not so impressive until you realise that the tray was balanced on a stick on his chin.

After a short interval where yours truly was entertaining in the bar along with a few other Guild members, Ali Bongo introduced the second half – it was many years since he had shared a stage with the Top of the Bill, and it was certainly the first time he had ever introduced him......... “Paul Daniels.”

Britain’s most famous son had the audience in the palm of his hand – the usual Daniels controlled mayhem, audience inter play, the chop cup routine, the electric chair routine choreographed to perfection by the master (Carl and George his hapless victims will surely never forget their 15 minutes of fame?). Concluding with the author’s favourite trick - the note in walnut, egg and lemon – incontrovertibly brilliant. There was awe and wonder throughout the auditorium and the audience gave him a well-deserved standing ovation.

The magician who once played to a house in the power cut days lit by torches (Read Paul’s book) was on this night even brighter than the follow spots at the back of the theatre!

The Nottingham Guild of Magicians next planned show is on Sunday 29th January 2006 at the Bonington Theatre. Acts already booked include Wayne Dobson (who will also lecture during the day) and Derek Lever – more to come!

Full details will be on the Guild’s website shortly


Photo: Paul Daniels and Nottingham President Freddie Wilkinson (Paul Daniels was made an Honorary Life Member of the Guild)   

© Graham Harper, October 2005