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JDay 2008

Reviewed by Keith Church MIMC

Sunday morning I was up bright and early to travel to The Magic Circle HQ for the 2008 J-Day, having been invited again to be one of the judges for the Stage Competition (the major award being the HCMS Trophy).

Once again a really great day, reminiscent of many of our own J-Days here in Reading. Mandy Cox (nee Davis) the hardworking YMC Chairman and General Factotum for the J-Day greeted all as they arrived and after a welcome cup of coffee, a brief chat with TMC’s new President, Ali Bongo I made my way to the Theatre for the intruductions and official opening.

The day started with an all too short hour with Boris Wild who presented and then explained a series of his favourite card effects. These and much that he had no time to show were available at his table during the day and reasonably priced.

Following a short break with time to visit the Three Dealers present it was back to the Theatre for the Close-Up Competition. Six competitors varying in style performed and mystified … I was pleased that this was not the competition where I had to make a decision … very close in my view, but pleased that the three judges had come up with the same winner when this was revealed just before the Gala Show. Following the competitors, the 2007 winner Alex Hansford reprised his act showing the additions he had “built in” in the past year. With the 2008 winner Carl Scutt, certainly two name to watch !

Break for lunch (not quite to the standard of the Buffet Lunches we all enjoyed at The BlueCoat School over several years … but enjoyable for the Social chat with many of the young enthusiasts present and those of more mature years. The afternoon started with the Stage Competition … sadly only three acts had been selected from the entry of nine … members of our own J-Day team will no doubt remember the year when we had TWENTY SEVEN ACTS in the competition … and they all went on … the queue lined alongside the Hall at Mapledurham … and the weather for October being warm and sunny!  Three very different acts but at the “After Competition Judgement Meeting” with John Archer and Roy Davenport there was total agreement for the winner Ed Hilsum (well routined dove act presented with  polish). Joe Harper was the choice for the Kaymar Comedy Award  (which is for either stage or close-up) and he was the declared winner when the awards were presented. Jack Gleadow (HCMS Trophy winner in 2007) presented his act as a “warm-down” spot, giving his usual apparent unrehearsed melange of magic and humour.

Mark Shortland followed with an entertaining and thought provoking lecture which registered well with all in the Theatre. A break to refresh, chat or visit the dealers again was followed by Brian Sibley who hosted “An Audience with Roy Davenport”.  Roy is the fourth generation of a magical family and following a video of his FISM award winning “Waterloo Act” we sat and listened to Roy’s thinking and planning for just a few of his many and varied acts over the past years. The intensity of his joy and enthusiasm for his performances came through together with his love of theatre, dance and music. An all too short hour as far as I was concerned … but so filled with sound advice that ALL must have benefited from just “being there” …. I was sitting next to Fergus Roy who told me that when Roy was practising his spectacular linking ring routines he had to rehearse in the garden because of the throws he was attempting … many times he came in with his hands bleeding and bruised … that’s real dedication! … proud that Roy is just one of our many winners from past Reading J-Days … 15 years ago was his year if my memory is correct.

Following the presentation of the awards we settled to enjoy the Gala Show, compered by Richard Pinner who kept the show rolling with just a few “fills” … his Origami Buckle and Barbed Wire Rings being two which registered well.

Boris Wild opened with a silent Ring Routine in the style of Richard Ross; Mark Shortland gagged his way through; Marc Oberon showed “in gold” how AND why he had won at the Lousiville Convention …. now working towards the next FISM competition; John Archer was John Archer with a baffling (to me)  Die Prediction with SIX different audience members … all dead right and unless six random members of the audience were stooges ….IMPOSSIBLE ! Closing the Show was Roy Davenport who danced his way through coins and thimbles to finish with his “terrifying at times” ring routine …. all of which brought to life his remarks and thinking from the earlier Session.

Another great day …. good that the event which started in Reading has continued … in its own way of presentation… and continues to bring out the very best of youthful talent and enthusiasm.

I look forward to 2009.