I didn't think Jean-Luc was suave enough in appearance to be called "the cool conjurer," however even after a slightly uneven opening night performance I, and the rest of the audience, were left amazed and impressed with some of his magical feats.
A slightly silly (intentionally) dance routine to introduce himself and his two beautiful assistants lead to an explanation of his early fascination with magic. He had found a slim book of magic in his father's garage. Opening it, he produced further volumes. Book 3 being very thick indeed!
A scarf trick, designed to hang oneself, unknotted magically from his neck and when the knot was untangled produced a small live bird! This drew "oohs" and "aahs" especially from groups with children. Undoubtedly, their first exposure to the rarely seen world of magic. Unfashionable, or just too challenging for performers nowadays?
The theatrical presentation of three single scarfs, red, white and blue, which inexplicably produced a large green parrot was well received. Once placed into a cage there was a sudden thunder clap and the parrot disappeared to be replaced by a rabbit.
The introduction of "the lovely Christie" started with the appropriate song "It Cuts Both Ways". As she sang Jean Luc ushered her into a chamber where we could only see her head. He dissected her upper torso from her nether regions, pushing them in a separate box to the left, she continued to serenade us. It was a brilliant illusion.
There were a few less successful card tricks mainly because they lacked the visual impact of the larger deceptions.
A real winner was the levitation of the audience member as she lay prone on a flying carpet. The "volunteer" for this sat right in front of me in the audience and I quizzed her after the show. She had "no idea" how he had levitated her, "it only felt a little wobbly as I lay on the carpeted bench". Cleverly he ran hoops over her elevated body to prove she had no support!
A Melbourne Cup skit where Jean Luc accurately produced the numbers randomly chosen by another willing and good-natured "volunteer" was less successful because of its length.
The Russian spy spoof was fun and in traditional style Jean Luc put her in a cabinet and reduced her to a head by rolling up a blind with her body image superimposed on it. Once rolled up the blind revealed an empty cabinet!
The classic "swallow the needles" trick produced much adulation when a long string was regurgitated, threaded with the needles.
The "incredibly dangerous" bullet catch was somewhat compromised when the gun, failed but eventually the bullet was fired and caught by Jean Luc in his mouth. The bullet was identified as the one autographed by "volunteer, Igor".
Saving the best for last, Jean Luc led us on an Oriental fantasy; the Japanese high art of origami. Placing a large mirror behind his working table so there could be "no trickery", he unfolded a large flimsy box again and again until it was coffin sized. Introducing his Kimono-clad assistant he handed her into the box and proceeded to fold it down to almost shoe box size. Nothing underneath the table. Where was she?
A new cheongsam clad assistant arrived on stage and with ceremony hands Jean Luc a series of Samurai swords. Dramatically inserting them crossways and through the mid-section of the box he queries "Do you find me sadistic?" Cue the final sword handle bursts into flames and a comedy routine ensues while he tries to blow out the flames.
Finally, the flames doused, he unfolded the box to its original size. Out steps his assistant, very much in one piece.
Corny? Yes. Clever? Undoubtedly!
Children were agog and adult audience members left comparing notes about how he could have pulled off the sleights we witnessed. A rare piece of traditional showbiz in a contemporary setting.
Jean-Luc, The Cool Conjurer presents
Venue: De Parade Teatro 2 (located in the Little Creatures Secret Garden, Perth Cultural Centre)
Dates: 21 – 24 February
Tickets: $25 – $20