On the 7th November 2004 the Ipswich Magical Society
hosted their 17th annual one day convention. It may
not have been the biggest convention in the world,
but the day was filled to the brink with a variety
of lectures, dealers, close up performers and of
course the evening Gala Show.
Hopefully this review of the day will encourage
other magicians to attend similar conventions on a
more frequent basis.
The lectures during the day were from three
magicians, each at the top of their chosen
First up was Dave Brown. I believe that Dave is
relatively new to the lecturing circuit and it
took him a little while to warm up, but it soon
became really obvious that he is not only an
extremely skilled and experienced full time
working magician, but he is also very funny and
has some amazing ideas that I believe to be
unique to him.
I learnt a lot from Dave Brown. Not just from
his lecture, Close-Up session and Evening show
performance (Which I have to say was one of the
highlights of the convention), but because he
was also so approachable throughout the whole
day. He was keen to talk about any aspect of
this thing called Magic that we all love so
much. In fact I don't think I ever saw Dave when
he wasn't surrounded by a group of Magicians.
From young up and coming hopefuls too
experienced professionals, David always seemed
to be at the centre of the discussions.
The second lecture (my personal favourite of the
day) was from Andy Nyman. His chosen field of
magic is probably best described as mentalism,
although for me he always takes it that one step
further. In addition to being a very skilled
mentalist Andy Nyman is also a professional
actor, a skill that goes hand in hand with his
unique presentation of mind magic.
Andy's lecture wasn't just a collection of
effects, he also gave many great insights into
audience management and performing in general
that were just as interesting (if not more so)
than the actual effects themselves.
Andy Nyman has such energy, presence and
credibility when he is on stage that you just
can't help but be drawn into his performances. I
appreciate that mentalism is a very specialised
field of magic, and one that isn't necessarily
enjoyed by everyone, but I doubt that there were
anyone present during his lecture that didn't
enjoy it and come away with having learnt
The third lecture was from a true master of
children's magic, David Tomkins. His talk
revealed some great insights, not just into
performing magic for children, but also into the
art of ventriloquism, a skill that Mr. Tomkins
uses as the backbone of his act. I have to admit
that I do not do children's magic myself, and
yet I still found his lecture both informative
When David Tomkins has one of his puppets on his
arm, you do genuinely believe that there is
someone else there with him on stage, someone
else that is lightening quick to react to
impromptu situations such as when a certain
"Cheeky Dog" was inadvertently blinded by the
flash of a camera (I did apologise afterwards.
There were four close-up magicians this year,
and in my opinion they are four of the very
best. Three of which I am proud to say are
active members of the Ipswich Magical Society.
The first one I watched was Dave Brown, complete
with his amazing strolling wizard's close-up
costume that even included it's own little
self-contained stage area. This in itself shows
how much of a professional Dave Brown really is,
and how he is always looking for that unique
idea that makes him stand out from the crowd.
Dave performed a variety of classic close up
effects including a chop cup, coins, sponges and
Next up was Matt Edwards. Matt was this year's
(well deserved) winner of the Magini Shield
Close-Up competition. He started by swallowing a
balloon and then went on to dazzle and delight
with a ring on string routine and ended up with
what is fast becoming his trademark effect "Sam
the Bellhop". No one ever comes away from
watching Matt Edwards perform without their
sides aching from the laughter. He is a true
showman and a great magician.
After Matt there was Mike Rose. It is easy to
see why Mike Rose was a finalist in this years
Magic Circle Close-Up competition. His routine
was mainly card effects, but it flowed nicely
from beginning to end. Much to many peoples
delight he ended up with his own effect "The
Grail" (soon to be sold by Alakazam). This is
simply the best "Any Card at Any Number" effect
I have ever seen. At the beginning of his set, a
deck of cards was shuffled and handed to a
spectator to keep, and from another deck a
prediction card was selected. At the end of his
set the spectator holding the deck was asked to
name any number from 1-52 (in the case I saw it
was 49). The spectator then counted down to the
49th card. This 49th card matched the selection
that had been on the table the whole time. The
remainder of the cards were spread to show that
they were all different.
As to how he did it, I have no flipping idea and
what's more he won't tell me!
The last Close-Up magician that I saw was
Micheal J. Fitch. Yet another Ipswich Magical
Society member. Michael Fitch is better known
these days for his big stage shows but he proved
yet again that he can adapt for any situation
and gave a very skilled and entertaining
He started with a nice ambitious card routine
that was personalised with a spectators drawing,
and ended up with Max Mavens Mockingbird, one of
my personal favourites.
I can honestly say that the evening show this
year was one of the best yet. This is not just
my opinion either. Everybody I have spoken to,
Magicians and Non-Magicians alike, Adults and
Children, all say exactly the same thing. We may
all differ on the acts we found the most
entertaining, but we do all agree that it was a
truly magical show in all senses of the word.
As has been usual in recent years, the compere
for evening was funny man Richard Whymark. As in
previous years Richard left the audience always
wanting so much more. In fact one year it would
be very nice if he actually had a slot for
himself. He filled in the gaps between sets with
his own style of quick fire jokes and
impressions that included Ali G, Ozzy Osbourne,
and the "Weight Challenged" Ballerina (Believe
me, you had to be there!).
To open each half of the show the audience (and
the back stage boys) were treated to the
delightful choreography of the Kay Goddard Coral
Stebbing Dancers. Both dance routines were
polished, entertaining, and in their own way
very magical. This is another feature of the
Ipswich Magical Society Convention that I feel
makes it one of the best.
The first act of the evening was Dain Cordean. A
magician I admit that previously I had only
known by name. I did know however that he had
won the Ipswich Magical Society's Paul Duncaine
Cup three years running in the early 90's, so I
was in no doubt that he would be very
entertaining, and in no way was I disappointed.
His act was a mix of jokes coupled with some
truly astounding magic.
There were two main routines from his act that
genuinely impressed me. The first was his
multiplying pipes (of the smoking kind) that
just seemed to be appearing from nowhere. I
think he ended up with 10, but frankly I was so
engrossed with the whole act that I lost count.
This whole routine was performed in silence and
was beautifully choreographed to music.
His finale was an enchanting "Dancing
Handkerchief" routine that had the whole
audience believing it was alive. This is a real
classic of magic and I have never seen it
performed so well. It was easily strong enough
to end the show and yet we had only just
Next up was an act called Mistified, a.k.a.
Steve Whitear. If I described him as a mere
balloon modeller then I fear that many reading
this will skip to the next part of the review,
but you really shouldn't because calling Steve
Whitear a balloon modeller, is like calling
Rembrandt a "doodler".
With the help from selected children from the
audience he managed to knock up some truly
incredible balloon creations, and make it funny
and entertaining at the same time. It is fair to
say that he almost had to be dragged off stage,
and yet I don't think there was a single member
of the audience who wouldn't have enjoyed him
continuing even longer.
The last act of the first half was Andy Nyman.
Mind Magic may not be everybody's cup of tea,
but as far as I am concerned I could have
watched him perform all day. In my opinion no
one does mentalist magic better than Andy Nyman
(and I have seen many great mentalists this year
alone, including Derren Brown, Marc Spelmann and
Marc Paul, and I have watched the likes of
Richard Osterlind, Banachek and Max Maven on
DVD). Perhaps it is his skill as an actor that
makes him so credible, but I believe that even
those who claim not to be impressed by mentalism
would have been entertained by Andy's act.
I am still completely flummoxed by his book
test, which seeing as it was me who was up on
stage turning the pages of a freely selected
book, I am still none the wiser as to how it was
Often mind magic is performed with utter
seriousness, but Andy Nyman manages to project
his "Cheeky Chappie" persona and at the same
time maintain his credibility as someone who has
truly spooky powers. I think it is this mix that
makes Andy Nyman one of the best mentalists
around today. If you haven't seen him perform
than I strongly recommend that you purchase the
"Get Nyman" set of DVD's.
Following a short interval and then the Kay
Goddard Stebbing Dancers rendition of the
"CanCan" was the special guest of the day, Dave
For many this comedy magic act was the highlight
of the show. Comedy magic is very tough to get
spot on at the best of times and yet Dave Brown
made it seem so effortless. He is described as
"A charmingly outrageous performer with subtle
slapstick undertones of Jaques Tati, Charlie
Chaplin and Tommy Cooper all blended from a
and frankly I am not sure that it could be put
His act was so packed with hilarious moments
that I fear this may end up as a full on Dave
Brown tribute review and not a review of the
Ipswich Magical Society Convention so I will try
and keep it brief.
There were several moments from his act that
clearly stand out for me. The first was his
comedy linking Rings routine that had me, and by
all accounts the rest of the audience, in
stitches. It couldn't have been funnier if
Charlie Chaplin was doing it himself. The rings
seemed to accidentally link to everything from
button holes to braces to table legs, and in
fact to anything you could possibly think of. I
have seen other excellent comedy linking
routines before but none came close to this one.
Maybe it was the constant look of puzzlement on
his face that sold it. I can't say for sure, but
whatever he did worked and worked very well.
He then went on to disappear a silk from his
hand. Nothing special there you may think, but
remember this was the unique Dave Brown we are
talking about. He insisted on showing the
audience how it was done, which culminated in
him removing his jacket and trousers to show a
complex Heath Robinsonesque contraption of
pulleys and slides that were operated by him
opening and closing his knees. I would have
loved to have taken a picture of this but was
just laughing too much.
He then performed a classic thumb-tie routine. I
say classic, but again he made it unique to
himself. Previously I had not been a great fan
of Thumb-Tie routines, but now having seen it
performed so well I have revised my opinion of
The last part of his act had me laughing so much
that again I forgot to take a photograph, for
which I am truly sorry, as this would have been
a photograph that would have been nice to keep
in the Ipswich Magical Society Archives.
I should say at this point that Dave was dressed
in the traditional magicians garb that included
top hat and tails (without the top hat). Which
reminds me, there was a beautiful little segue
at one point, where finding a loose button on
the jacket he performed a nice little "Chinese
sticks" routine that seemed to puzzle himself as
much as it did the audience.
Anyway, this last effect (at least the last one
I will talk about) required the help from a
selected volunteer from the audience, who was
made to wear a full length blue robe that from
the neck to the waist consisted of a picture of
a half sized evening suited man. The neck was
under the spectator's head and the feet were at
his waist. By the time a table had been put
under the feet of the "mini-me" Dave Brown, and
Dave had moved behind the spectator so he could
push his arms through two holes in the robe, the
illusion was complete and fully animated.
From this position behind the spectator, Dave
then proceeded to perform a small selection of
magic tricks using his hands as the hands of
"Mini-Dave". He even did a version of his
earlier Chinese-sticks with the buttons, adding
a nice degree of continuity that caused the
whole act to flow effortlessly from start to
If you ever get the chance to see Dave Brown's
stage act then I urge you to go. It IS big and
it IS clever, and it is extremely funny.
David Tomkins, as previously mentioned is a top
class children's entertainer, and being a
variety show with many children present he went
down very well indeed. For me, and I am sure
many others, the highlight of his act was when
he produced his little feathered friend. I think
have said already that David Tomkins is one of
the best working ventriloquists in the country.
Whilst it is probably true to say that you could
never see his lips move, this fact was in fact
totally irrelevant, because when the bird was
talking everyone was just far too engrossed in
watching what it was doing and not what David's
lips were doing. In short this wasn't a
ventriloquist act. It was a double act with
David Tomkins and his modest little friend.
The last act of the night was the one and only
Michael J. Fitch. Michael is one of those
skilled all round magic entertainers that seem
to excel at everything they put their minds to.
His act was a joyous mix of big magic illusions,
and many moments of comic wizardry that had
everyone from all ages, both laughing and amazed
at the same time.
I think it fair to say that his grand finale, a
funny routine that concluded with a bubble gum
machine and a ring that he had earlier borrowed
from an audience member (which was accidentally
lost) did not go 100% to plan. Due to no fault
of his own, there were unforeseen technical
difficulties with the equipment that could have
been, potentially at least, disastrous.
However, having said that, all the non-magicians
that I spoke with about the routine (and even a
few magicians) never suspected that anything had
truly gone wrong. They all thought that it was
part of the act.
This for me is a testament to a true
professional who has the talent and coolness to
joke and act his way out of any situation, even
when up on stage in front of hundreds of people.
Can I really say anything more? To be honest I feel
I have only just scratched the surface of what was
for me (and I know many others) a marvellous day
from beginning to end.
I think that the reason the Ipswich Magical Society
Annual One Day Convention is always such a big
success is that there is always such a great variety
It is possible that not everyone enjoyed every
single act (although personally I did), but I would
be amazed if there was anybody that didn't enjoy the
vast majority of the day.
This all happened over a week ago and I am still
buzzing from the experience. Hopefully this review
will encourage other magicians to attend similar
conventions on a more frequent basis because apart
from seeing some great lectures and some fantastic
acts, it gives us a chance to meet each other and
the dealers that we all spend so much money with.
Reviewed by Simon Shaw