High Peak Magic Circle return to Buxton Fringe with two evenings of close up magic and illusion in the Octagon this year. The Magic Circle team including; Bernie Pedley, John Gill, Ian Barradell, Danny Jewel, and Andy Lochan are dedicated to entertainment and clearly enjoy what they do.
This group of professional and semi-professional performers reveal real dedication and skill in a variety of tricks and routines that delight and mystify. Six talented magicians each visit your table for 10 minutes of close up tricks and illusions delivered with humour and impressive skill. Each does different tricks involving audience participation eliciting lots of ‘Wow, how did he do that’ comments. MC Andy Hall keeps the gags and entertainment going in-between the table rotations and Chris Stevenson finished off the evening with an audience member and a guillotine.
Well worth catching their second performance on 19 July if you can, and keep an eye out for their appearances in the area throughout the year.
Festooned in bunting, the village of Chelmorton is offering a week of special events as part of its traditional Chelmorton Festival.
It is a beautiful village at any time of the year but especially so now as a combination of eye-catching yarn bombing, knitted creatures and inventive scarecrows makes a stroll down the main street take twice as long as it normally would. A man putting up bunting on a stone wall made me do a double take (another scarecrow of course) while a group of knitted moles led my eye to a tiny fairytale house on the grass with a very long washing line of miniature clothing hinting at further unseen mini-residents.
Over at the historic church (past a suitably verdant Green Man on a carved seat in the churchyard) was a local history exhibition that apologised for Chelmorton’s historically peaceful reputation but informed us that this was the highest village in Derbyshire and that it intrigued archaeologists because of its evidence of medieval strip farming. The village pub, The Church Inn, is thought to have its origins in the 12th century and there was a photograph of it in the 1920s looking pretty much as it does today.
For me, after a busy weekend’s Fringe-ing and a morning of torrential rain, all this was excitement enough but if you follow the link on https://chelmorton.wordpress.com/ you will find a host of activities through the week including a quiz at The Church Inn on Monday at 9pm, a dry stone wall course on Tuesday, a Beetle Drive at the Village Institute on Wednesday at 6.30pm, a Car Treasure Hunt on Thursday from 6pm, a Nature Walk on Friday from 4pm and all manner of fun on Saturday culminating in a ceilidh from 7.30pm. The festival ends on Sunday with a chance to enjoy Afternoon Tea at Ditch House at 2.30pm and Songs of Praise back at the Village Church at 6.30pm.
Caspar Thomas provided 50 minute show which never felt hurried or rushed, but clipped along at a pace which gave plenty of time for a good selection of magic tricks, but also time for some commentary on the history of magic and self depreciating humour. Listening to the discussions after the show, it seems that the audience were particularly impressed by the feats of mentalism referenced in the title of the show, and which are truly impressive. With a full house in a temporary structure being blown about by the wind, and contending with the sound of another show nearby, it would have been easy to struggle, but Thomas showed his experience and professionalism by effortlessly keeping the audience engaged, laughing and gasping.
On this return visit to the Fringe, Baldini continues the story of how he became The Great Baldini and the magic of the tricks is thoroughly wrapped up in the development of the narrative. It’s a strong and entertaining storyline, involving travel through numerous cities and countries to reach the home of the Illusionati, an elite and secretive group of mysterious and influential magicians.
An imposing physical presence on stage, he presents himself as a magical legend, a music hall relict and an old school theatrical performer, the ‘Maharajah of Mystery’, and we have the tale of how he travelled, competed and went head to head to become the leader of the shadowy and sinister ILLUSIONATI.
Along the way we see – and a few of us share in – the adventures, the decoding of clues, the performing of tricks, and of these the work with lengths of cord and a solid brass ring is particularly impressive.
This was the first performance of the new show and it’s a delightful combination of humour, magic, a little audience participation (as you’d expect) and an endearing personality. It was much appreciated and liked by the audience and worked very well in the Pump Room which is by day the town’s welcoming Buxton Visitor Centre – why it even has a bar which, you might say, adds to the magic.
I like shows that are self-deprecating and so “Two old geezers prattling on...” seemed a natural.
It is classified in the Fringe programme as “And More” which doesn’t give much of a clue, especially as this category is shared with a magician and the Pride picnic. I was half expecting a comedy gig.
What we had was a social history of Buxton told through its pubs. This may seem unlikely but the influences of Irish labourers and the pubs they drank in while building the Goyt Reservoirs, the railways, and other familiar constructions around us was fascinating, to give just one example.
The ‘show’ or presentation was based on the book ‘Buxton Pubs' by Julian Cohen which is sponsored by the Buxton Civic Association. This sideways history of the town takes a ‘bottom up’ approach much different from the upper/middle class stories of wealthy people taking the waters with which we are all familiar.
A striking statistic that reflected the change of culture was given to us:
In 1577 there were 13 pubs which is was a ratio of 1 pub to 54 people
In 1835 there were 30 pubs giving 1 to 50
But in 2022 there were 32 which with the higher population gives one pub serving 730 people.
We also discussed the modern trend of cafes becoming pub-like in the evenings, and the difference between Ale Houses, Taverns and Inns.
We learned fascinating facts like, the Tap House (which was the venue for the talk) once used to be a car showroom. The Eagle (now recently and sadly closed) was paired with the White Hart (long since gone) agreed to share the travelling trade (in the horsey days when Buxton was on a main travelling route); the Eagle taking the northbound clients and the White Hart the southbound. The preservation of old interiors of Robinsons pubs is more likely to be lack of investment rather than conservation policy.
There was discussion of individual pubs with some background information being offered and personal favourites discussed. One attendee informed us that he was working his way through the list of pubs and had reached half-way. He was concerned when a couple of pubs were identified as ‘at risk’ so they were bumped up to the top of his list.
The venue was packed, even at 4pm on a Tuesday - standing room only – possibly helped by this being a free event. The Tap House bar did good trade – how can you listen to a talk about pubs without a beer?
One more free event on 18th July at 6pm Get there early.
This mixed media performance by French artist Yvette Ribot-Smith contrasts difficult political and social issues with the love and joy she finds in movement and being in the local High Peak landscape.
Ribot-Smith certainly throws everything at her show in what is definitely a strong contender for 'fringiest' show of the year for its combination of art-forms. Based around 16 of her oil paintings she fuses her own spoken word and movement with factual summaries from a representative of Amnesty International, poems from local writers, music and song.
The issues are wide ranging from violence against women and girls to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, from the French Gilet Jaunes protest to crackdowns on democracy in Syria. Ribot-Smith is a lively and engaging presence, her righteous indignation is in no way blunted by what we might term English reserve but is given free rein. There is an enjoyable self-deprecating sense of humour at play in her portrayal of why she missed out on the 1968 student protests in Paris, and a knowing nod to her eccentricity.
The paintings around which the show is based include pastoral local scenes alongside dramatic images depicting the issues addressed in the show. The image representing the Ukrainian gymnast combines the best of her work and is particularly vibrant as it references the Ukrainian flag with its wheatfields and the freedom of the gymnast’s movements against the blue sky. She has styled some paintings on the work of other artists, and the Goya inspired work about Putin is particularly interesting.
Though the programme suggests that it addresses horrific social themes it is notable that bar the global issue of Climate Change, each of them is addressed via instances set overseas. It risks appearing that 'we' have the answers and 'they' would do well to listen to us. The depth of her concern and her wide range references is admirable, but perhaps a more in-depth study of fewer topics would have yielded rewards.
Ribot-Smith has certainly embraced the Fringe ethos in her range of themes, media and collaborators and drew a large crowd to the Green Man Gallery.