Well – it turns out that China is worried about fire regulations after all. Guards are now posted at all the doors keeping the throbbing masses at bay ( literary device alert: hyperbole )letting only the maximum 360 or so people in. Don't mess with the guards:
1. Charming Choi – Parlour – Korea
Charming Choi has been a regular at quite a few magic events of the years with a personality all his own. Sue-Anne Webster reprises her role as our official volunteer ( thankfully no shock therapy today ) and partakes in a strange DVD prediction effect involving XXX titles and Disney favourite – The Little Mermaid. Thankfully the Little Mermaid made it and Charming Choi performs cups & balls under water in a fishtank ending in a cascade of goldfish.
2. Daly Tang – Micro – China
3 coin trick, appearing / vanishing cards to music ending with a card spread with a piano design on the backs.
3. Martin Lubcke - Cards - Germany
The tuxedo should have been the first clue that things were headed downhill. A signed card is supposedly meant to be discovered within a frozen icecream - but with the load painfully obvious and the performer appearing somewhat 'touched' or 'extreme' as he would like to say - this was just strange.
4. Nektarios - Micro - Greece
Recorded voice-overs of imaginary telephone conversations appear to be a new trend this year - and a warning of things to come. Pips vanished from cards, we had a matrix with smiley faces, smiley face cards and smiley face t-shirt. Why ?
5. Sho Arai - Cards - Japan
Set to music - pips appeared on cards, the card box along with some stage style card manipulation. Yawn.
6. Rod Chow - Parlour - Canada
The money man who takes a theme to the n-th degree. Pay cheque to cash notes - notes to Amex - gold card to gold bar with appearing diamond ring and a drop of his production load on the floor. Unfortunately the novelty fast wears off and becomes repetitive.
7. Ramon Rioboo - Cards - Spain
A non-English speaking performer trying to speak English which makes things very difficult. Signed card to pocket, cards stapling themselves in a 'homing card' style routine and few other things which failed to make my notebook.
8. Kif - Cards - China
Three cards are selected and in an apparent memorisation of the deck, the performer works out the missing cards - with the aid of 'Super Mints' and orchestra of toy trumpet, drum and tambourine. How ridiculous do we get.
9. Charlie Caper - Parlour - Sweden
As winner of Sweden's Got Talent, the pressure was on ( the full act is available on YouTube ) But Charlie wasn't on form - dropping his vanishing cane and bowtire steal clearly visible on the big screens. In one of the funniest sequences though - Charlie had added an extension cord to his chair in honour of inviting Sue-Anne 'electricity' Webster onto stage.
10. Min Hyung Kim - Cards - Korea
Color changing liquid amidst a 4 ace discovery to the sound of Michael Jackson's 'Dangerous' with crowd singalong. Complete with Barbie doll. Bizarre.
11. Mago Bruno - Micro - Peru
The telephone rings and an imaginary conversation ensues ( warning signs flash all over ) Repetitive and predictable with 'jumbo' pocket watches replacing buttons on his jacket, manipulating giant thread and needles and the not so magical production of a ligher from a table.
12. Ryu Hyun Min - Cards - Kore
Dressed in a bright red bow tie and waist coat, the performer could easily pass for 6 years of age. 3 card monte with appearing deck of cards, signed card in pocket in envelope amidst general confusion.
13. Yves Doumergue - Parlour - France
The act that literally had everyone wide awake and at the edge of their seats. 3 volunteers are brought onstage and requested to selected a dynamite looking firecracker. 4 are real and one is a dud ( he lights one to prove it - literally shaking the CNCC convention centre to its core with an enormous bang ) The volunteers each take one - the last spectator inadvertently providing the magician with incorrect information as to what number he has selected. With the magician now reaching for one of the remaining sticks ( using incorrect information as to what sticks remain ) - he places it in his mouth and begins to light it. Some members of the audience are horrified - not knowing whether to intervene to prevent a ghastly accident. A scream is heard and the magician's face is covered in blood ... he had planned it all and knew exactly which one to choose.
To be honest, I felt very guilty. I should have been deeply concerned about this poor human being about to disfigure his face by accident in the name of entertainment - but thought, wow, this is going to make for such a great story. Oh - the human compassion.
Judges - Dick Koornwinder, Tim Ellis ( did you know that according to the FISM brochure he's a Grand Prix Champion ) & Boris Wild - had their hands full !