Hi, it’s Peter Kidd, reporting on the Magic Nights at The Mill at Sonning in Berkshire. I’ve reported on them before, and I make no apologies for doing so again because it is a great night’s entertainment. I also had an ill-informed opinion of one performer entirely transformed by a superb performance of old-school magic, but more on that later.

A Trio of TV Talent

As usual, Dan Hudson hosted the show and did a fantastic job of keeping it flowing. And – dare I use ‘as usual’ again? – he had gathered together a stellar trio of performers.

First on was Neil Henry, who I missed on Britain’s Got Talent because I don’t watch it! Neil’s stage persona was, to my eye, Mr Normal.

He didn’t dress like a performer, and he didn’t project any ego whatsoever. He appeared to be as amazed as the audience at what was happening in his hands. Two of his routines stood out for me. The first was his take on ‘needles or razor blades from the mouth’ using a tin of alphabet spaghetti in tomato sauce—seriously, the ‘freely’ chosen word was attached, letter by letter, to the thread he swallowed.

The other was a clever prediction of lottery numbers using a board covered with trademarks. It was very clever and had a mental effect involving the WHOLE audience rather than just a chosen few. It was an excellent opening to the evening.

Second on the bill was Maximilian Somerset III –to you and me, Max Somerset of TV fame. Again, I’d not seen Max on any of his TV appearances, so I had no idea what to expect. OMG! What a personality.

He performed an excellent prediction using a large die and an electronic organ. No, I’m not kidding. A spectator shook the die, and Max played a tune with the number on the die in the title.

The routine was great, Max’s work on the keyboards was great too, his voice isn’t bad either, and he even had to contend with an idiot spectator who chose to miscall the number on the die.

His second effect is a bit of a blur, but a woman thinks of a country, and then Max sings a song with lyrics that name (seemingly) every country except the one in the woman’s mind. But Max’s talent came through in his Just Chance routine using a borrowed watch and a lump hammer!

Sadly, again, the spectator thought the show was all about him and not the performer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that added some extra weight to Max’s arm as he smashed every watch except the spectator’s—a lesson in theatre, stagecraft and audience management.

Jamie Raven was at the top of the bill. As I’ve said, I don’t watch Britain’s Got Talent.

Well, I was astonished. He was charming. It was gently humorous. It was self-effacing.

It was a wonderful act, as one might have seen in days gone by, before the demands of TV, talent shows and the need for immediacy and impact.  It was a lovely, lovely act, and I would happily travel a long way to see it again.

Dan Hudson was holding the evening together. Not in the slightest overawed by the big TV names around him, Dan kept the show moving with an assured touch, witty interaction with the audience, and some baffling magic of his own.

As Dan books, the acts himself, the content of the shows are down to him and him alone, and I don’t see how he can top this evening’s bill … but I said that after his previous show, too.  All I can say is that I can’t wait for his next – now twice-a-year – Night of Magic at The Mill at Sonning.