JASPER MASKELYNE & CO. (1947)

Westminster Theatre, London

At last Wednesday’s matinee, about as many celebrities of the magical world graced the front of the house as were on the stage itself. Your reviewer had the misfortune to be surrounded by Robert Harbin, Peter Waring and Billy McComb. Every time anyone on the stage did anything, Billy said, ‘I can do that,’ Bob Harbin said, ‘I bet you can’t,’ and a heated argument arose, and the one thing needed to compete the picture was Edward Graves to object to Eric MAson’s ‘plug’ for ‘Abracadabra.’ Afterwards, we all went back-stage to see how it was done, and since its the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff that always appeals to the man who sits in front, we can report that all the wives of all the artists were busy pouring out tea and made us very welcome.  

Let’s just glance at the show. Opening was Donna Delbert who handled her youthful volunteer assistants very nicely. She does fire-eating and tricks with whips. Coming from America, where they do these things more effectively than our own people, she started the show off in sensational style. Saveen, a ventriloquist with novel material, good technique and a nice manner, registered well, and he was followed by Musaire, with a contraption which plays tunes by oscillation.

Edward Victor closed the first half with his masterly hand-shadows. He was to appear with the polished sleight-of-hand later in the programme, and the continuous egg production on which the curtain fell was of those touches of brilliance which came all too rarely in magic shows. 

Raoul opened after the interval. His prize-winning flower-painting and the giant Fantastic Frame and Cabby especially made for him by Eric Lewis, were the two principal effects here. The Great Masoni presented his ‘Seeing Through a Woman’ illusion - still an amazing effect after a dozen viewings - and a pleasant little front-cloth routine using Wandman’s ‘Circle-Circle’ apparatus. Masoni made an appearance that was all-too-brief in the programme that could otherwise have been improved by a little judicious pruning; we felt that it was about fifteen minutes too long.

Jasper Maskelyne closed.  Two Oswald Williams items, ‘Dizzy Limit’ and ‘Watch the Watch,’ the Maskelyne escape truck, ‘Asrah,’ the Chinese Rings, and a couple of minor effects were presented in his smooth, suave and unhurried fashion, and his new feature effect, Claud, the Mechanical Man from Mars, who forecast on a slate the answer to an addition sum, was effective, novel and interesting.

For a matinee, the house was well filled, and the summer season at this theatre promises to be highly successful. Alistair Maskelyne stage-managed.


Source: Charles Neale Goodliffe, Abracadabra, Vol. 4, 2 August 1947.