TONS OF MAGIC (1930)
Maskelyne's Theatre, London
"Tons of Magic." A better title could scarcely have been chosen for this non-stop feast of conjuring. The curtains rise to disclose a stage on a stage and, to the satisfaction of the majority, there is a clear space brilliantly illuminated 'twixt the two. Mr. Jasper Maskelyne offers two assistants the top corners of a silken banner. ‘Attention—Number !’ is the order. ‘One, two, T H R E E’ is immediately forthcoming from behind the banner, which falls to disclose an additional assistant.
Rice, poured into a jar, becomes transformed into silks, and these are used to form a rag picture, the silks forming blooms; the base of the picture is momentarily concealed with a large silk and the blooms are seen to sprout from a huge art flower-pot. A sack now disgorges rags of vivid hue, and these, returned to the sack, become transformed into a glad-rag belle, charming, and very much alive. A large menu is now exhibited minus the comestibles. A selection by members of the audience, the sprinkling of "pepper" on the menu, and behold, the bill of fare offers prospects of a dinner in accordance with the selection.
‘Mother Hubbard’ now has the traditional cupboard erected for her—a structure of light wooden panels. Her repeated "goings," in accordance with the nursery rhyme, brought up to date, only result in the production of the landlord, tax collector, policeman and insurance agent. Tearfully, Mother Hubbard goes in the cabinet, which an instant later is demolished by the aforesaid quartette—nothing but the poor lady's dress remains. A fine comedy item.
A bottle, candlestick, and a portion of a barber's pole having performed those high jinks which conjurers cheerfully anticipate when postal tubes are used as covers, we are introduced to a huge cross-word puzzle. The humorous clues having been satisfactorily dealt with, there comes the last: ‘A Manly Girl.’ Crash ! and behold charming Mary Maskelyne in the picture. Eggs from a Jap box go into a basket held by an assistant. There has, however, been too much 'fluence. As a result, the assistant proceeds to have eggs produced from his mouth in the familiar manner. Never was the trick done better, or to more hearty laughter on the part of the audience.
In ‘My Dear Watson,’ Mr. Jasper Maskelyne, in an excellent make-up, takes the part of Sherlock Holmes. A quaint old soul has lost that which she describes as "a little snack," and her shallow attache case being opened (at both sides, by the way) discloses its emptiness. Holmes makes short work of the mystery, for the case soon brings forth, among other edibles, a large cake and a pie that would feed a large family. The old lady joyfully departs with the "snack."
A minor deft item (in which three goblets, separated by wooden slabs and stacked one on the other, are caused to nest as the wooden partitions are knocked away) precedes a good penetration illusion. It having been shown that a white and a black cube can change places when encased in a cover, two huge blocks appear. In the white cube goes a white-robed damsel, and in the black, another lady in a dress to match. The cover is lowered, and the blocks and their occupants change places at the same time. Walking through a sheet of iron —a la the wall—is still popular, and both effects win well-merited applause. Salt, from a Cerebos tin, is next poured into a glass until it is full. Another glass is covered with a board, and a handkerchief, and on top is placed the glass of salt. Although the top glass seems to be quite full, a similar quantity of salt is poured in without overflowing and, of course, the added quantity penetrates as usual to the lower tumbler. To a humorous story, milk in a jug gradually dis-appears, while water in a baby's feeding bottle turns to milk. There is a residue of milk in the jug, and this promptly turns to water—a trick worked to hilarious fun, with the aid of an assistant.
For the finale, the curtains rise to disclose two ladies busy selling flags. The conjurer makes his purchases from both fair vendors, and soon multiplies the flags in magical fashion. Little need be added save the statement that the huge Union Jack which Mr. Maskelyne waves as the curtains falls on the spectacle must be the largest magically produced flag on this or any other stage.
Such is but the bare bones of the show. One that goes with a swing from the rise to the fall of the curtain, and one which Messrs. Maskelynes, Mr. Oswald Williams, the producer, and the large bevy of helpers may congratulate themselves on having done the work well indeed.
‘Tons of Magic’ by no means stops at the foregoing. Mr. Lewis Davenport and his company have added novelties. ‘Felix’ keeps on walking to some purpose and eventually becomes of life size—as for Mr. Davenport's work with billiard balls, the majority of us hard-boiled magicians could watch him by the hour. Mr. Clement Minns, with ventriloquism and not a little good conjuring, Mr. Finlay Dunn, who, at the piano, will find time for his little trick, Mr. George Hurd, a happy brilliant juggler, and those irresistible De Suter Brothers in their musical act, all help augment a programme that is packing the house. Well done, Maskelynes. Magic is still quite all right in your most capable hands.
Source: The Magic Wand, Vol. 19, No. 145, George Johnson, Mar-May 1930.