This time Greg Wilson was the able compere and he arrived on stage already handcuffed! This was a great idea – saving us from all the boring stuff – and Greg escaped quickly, doing so as a spectator was reaching for the keys in his jacket pocket!

Jean Garin performed with lots of goldfish appearing and disappearing. The tank, however, was a TV screen and the whole thing was an illusion after all as he ended by taking apart the apparatus  to show it was just an empty box frame.

Greg was back to perform a card trick where the chosen card spun out of the deck and was caught in his teeth.

He introduced Strange Company who started slow and just got better and better. A set of theatre drapes were squeakily wheeled on stage and a man and woman, dressed in black and white, emerged from them. There was some comedy with a cape before some pseudo hypnosis; then  a mixture of a Head Twister, cartoon style juggling and a box with false legs hanging out. There was a very funny sequence with the magician in a box and his head falling heavily down to the base of the box with a thump, several times, and legs and arms moving in strange ways.  An incompetent air traffic controller and flight attendant followed  and they performed a balancing and sometimes contortion act to great applause. It’s not easy to explain this act except to say it was all very funny. You really had to be there!

Greg had a Rubik’s Cube moment or two and then we were treated to Gwenaelle  – The Golden Butterfly.

A quick change to a Cleopatra style gown and then some perfect manipulations with gold on her fingertips  – could not see what they were but very pretty. Card manipulation followed and then a dancing butterfly, like a zombie ball, or dancing hanky effect was used well to ilustrate the title of the act. The cloth became a kind of spirit cloth as a large furry caterpillar crawled across the edge and surface, then into a drawer. After a silk fountain, that ended in a thick shower of glitter, the girl herself became the butterfly as her huge, previously hidden, golden wings unfurled from her back.

Greg Wilson was back with a silverware swindle and then Ian Rowland entertained with some cutlery bending that included lots of elegant humour and some pseudo dramatic moments to prove that the spoons were real and solid. He then used a long questionnaire elimination process for a volunteer for a ‘card at any number’ type of prediction.

Zaubertrixxer ended the first half. A madcap act with a classic magician and a troupe of nine girls and two men who performed to  ghetto blasting music, interrupting the classic magician’s silk vanishes by all appearing from one box! Back to the classic magician who used a magic wand to produce a fan of cards – then another interruption with levitations and costume changes.  There was a total mash up as the magician showed his superhero tee shirt and we saw a sub trunk and a card castle, a broken wand which was restored at the end and a whole lot more that you need to see to understand!

We needed an interval here. Then I was delighted to see the amazing Xavier Tapias who entrances the audience by building a figure from trash around a park bench. Cardboard boxes, coke cans and empty plastic bottles formed the seated figure of a boy which suddenly came to life and, with a little help, walked around the bench. Xavier then took the waste bin, that he’d emptied of its contents earlier, and used it as the body of a barking dog that ran around his feet before the three of them, man, boy and dog, wandered offstage.

Greg Wilson did his own set: a Just Chance routine with three wallets, then had a spectator lose both his money and credit card. A ‘where’s the coin’ gag led to a very funny confession as it was discovered that the spectator in question wore his watch on his right hand instead of his left! This meant that firstly Greg couldn’t find it and then that they were on the wrong sides of each other! Greg confessed that he wasn’t ambidextrous and moved on to show that the missing money and credit card were now in a bag tied around his ankle!  Then just as the act ended he returned the watch to the spectator – he’d managed to steal it after all!

Otto Wessley is a total star and his comedy act was long awaited by the audience. The visual gags never stopped, from a fight to remove his cape to his dove productions, everything was funny and fast. We saw a Torn and Restored newspaper, a tiger through a hoop, a rabbit from a hat, a zombie using huge balls and a razor blade finale – everything had a unique twist and made you want to watch it over and over as you had surely missed something!

After another card trick from Greg Wilson we enjoyed the superb ventriloquism of Steve Hewlett who is currently working Las Vegas. His gags were numerous but all dealt with voice throwing and we saw a baby, a chicken, a voice in a bottle and, of course, his old man puppet.

The final act was another great illusionist, Christian Farla. A girl was produced from a throne, a fire cage covered with a cloth produced another; a plaform with a silver cloth produced two more. A sub trunk followed but this one had rotating fans around the sides and top. The ripping away of the split curtain was not as smooth as it should’ve been though. A flattish hexagonal container held a girl who had stakes pushed through her with lots of fire and flames around the stage. When it ended not one but two girls emerged, a seemingly impossible feat. Another, more familiar, illusion was a large circular holder which was divided vertically by an opaque cover so that one half was covered. A shadow of a girl was seen on this and then the cover was moved to the other side.. the girl reappearing there instead. The final illusion was a steampunk coffin shaped box with a jagged circular saw above and claws at the base. Christian was set inside it and the saw dropped – but he was long gone and running through the auditorium.

This was another great show – and one more still to come!

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