This out and out battle was billed as a battle between the UK and the rest of the world, but it quickly became more of a battle between the audience and acts, and the compere Stu Francis, my understanding of a compare is to introduce the acts, and fill between them, not to try and turn the event into the Stu Francis Come Back Show.
Bob Wooding opened with his Blackpool winning Balloon act, which was very good, large balloon models including Starship Enterprises, Thunderbirds, Batman costumes, and more being produced and created quickly and well.
Stu Francis then started his attempted to take over the show by talking about how nice it was to see all his old friends, and seeming to take longer than his initial long section at the start to introduce the next act, the escape artists Danny Hunt and Annette.
Danny did some nice escapes, although sitting looking at a closed locked box for five minutes whilst he escaped inside did seem a bit odd. He closed with a water torture type escape, where his head was locked upside down into a filling tank of water, whilst he escaped hand cuffs and the locks around his neck holding him into the water cell. The only issue was that the water didn’t appear, and there seemed to be some issue with the mechanism for filling it, meaning it took longer than expected to escape, but none the less a fair act towards the end. Stu ooh I could crush a grape Francis didn’t do anything for the tension of the act by commentating badly and building no tension at all.
More Stu Francis between that and the next act, again taking a long time and repeatedly pulling the previous act out onto the stage for no apparent reason.
Graham Jolley, did a great, fast and packed mentalism section, filled with humor and good effects, only mared by the fact we knew that Stu would be out again at the end to talk us into a coma between acts.
John Archer was next out, and did, as only John could, a fantastic act, even with the issues with a volunteer that had no idea what to do, didn’t understand Johns instructions and even started to open predictions early. John turned it round to be a hilarious section, and ended strong.
More Stu Francis between the next act, this time recounting his time and association with Crackerjack, and sorry there’s a limit on the number of times you can mention that name and expect the crackerjack audience reply. He finally introduced the final illusion act Martyn James.
The second half was the rest of the world acts. I cannot remember if it was here, or the end of the first half Stu Francis started making jokes about the death of David Nixon, apparently his ‘idol’ as I think I’d started to filter him out by now.
First up was Fukai, which Stu couldn’t seem to remember or pronounce, mixing his normal productions routine with a d’lite based effect at the start. Rafael was next up, and did his Vampire/Dracula routine, which was just stunning, especially the visual slicing of his assistant in two on the sofa, and a nice slender legged walking skeleton pushing a trolly (a womans lower legs, and a skeletons upper half). He received a thunderous applause from the crowd.
Stu then surpassed himself by flirting badly with Shawn Farquhars wife on stage, misintroducing him as (I think) Derek Farquhar, and then apologising to him calling him David Farquhar!!! Shawn did his FISM, Shape of my Heart act.
Roxanne did a nice dark stage routine with appearing roses, jewelry, and solid magic, Shimada shone with his dove act, and Topas closed with a amazing sound effects, choreographed, ball manipulation and production, drumming session, which was a very refreshing close to the show.
We left before Stu came back on, as did many others..
..lets hope Stu Francis goes back to village panto’s
Tags: Blackpool Magic Convention