Everyone thinks they know magic shows. A guy pulls a rabbit out of a hat, there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors. Well, there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors in The Illusionists but this is a show like no other Auckland has seen. It’s the combination of seven extremely talented magicians that makes this show so much fun, and unpredictable. Guys this is some seriously magical entertainment.
The show is made up of appearances by seven different but complimentary magicians. The Anti-Conjurer (Dan Sperry) is totally the family un-friendly member of the cast. If Marilyn Manson had a love child with like a wizard or something, this guy would be the pale offspring. These tricks are guaranteed to make people uncomfortable, and if you don’t feel weird watching him you probably should be on stage with him. I’m still trying to figure out what he did with the doves.
The Escapologist (Andrew Basso) makes a fleeting appearance for a the world’s most famous escape trick. I tried to hold my breath during his appearance to see if I could match his talent but this unfit body of mine was no match. It was an impressive feat to watch, I just wish he’d featured a little more in the show.
The Inventor (Kevin James) brought a whimsical style to the show, making both kids gasp and adults smile. He looks a bit like a steampunk version of Colonel Sanders but the special effects involved in his scenes were impressive and totally invisible, the illusion of it all being quite convincing. One lucky little girl from the audience got to actually levitate her very own rose, and man was she stoked. Seeing a kid totally believe in magic is touching stuff.
The Gentleman (Mark Kalin) and The Enchantress (Jinger Leigh) played off each other’s talents (and the audience’s participation) to perform big set-piece illusions, including a crazy levitation trick I still can’t manage to figure out. The Mentalist (Philip Escoffey) made mind-reading real. And he was funny to boot. Bucketloads of audience participation and a good thick layer of British deadpan delivery made this psychic a crowd favourite.
The stand-out act of the night, though, was the hilarious Trickster (Jeff Hobson), who brought all the glitz and showmanship of Las Vegas to The Civic. Draped in a loud suit he pranced around the audience making fun of people, performing tricks and generally leaving the audience in hysterics. A particularly comedic card trick run-in with crooner Willy Moon became a recurring joke throughout the show.
The Illusionists is surprisingly funny, and infinitely mystifying. The strength of this particular show is the marriage of comedy, music, showmanship with the variety of seven different magic disciplines. No matter how many “magic explained” videos you’ve watched on YouTube there’s nothing like seeing these illusions in the flesh and walking out thinking “how the hell did they do that?”.
22 May – 2 June 2013
The Civic, Auckland
Tickets from The Edge