Usually when a show returns to a city like Auckland so soon after its original run there is little redeeming on offer, but The Illusionists 2.0 (the first edition of which originally charmed Auckland in 2013) mixes something old with something new. With added audience interaction and even a third dimension, the familiar set up continues – a team of some of the world’s greatest magicians together for what could be described as the world’s biggest magic variety show.
On entry you’re given a pair of 3D glasses and an envelope which reads DO NOT OPEN. These will both come in handy later in the show, and while I can say that the contents of the envelope turn out to be very satisfying I did find the 3D effect a bit of a gimmick. It’s used far too sparingly through the show and doesn’t really add much to the experience.
Speaking of the experience, this one is top quality. I recently wrote about how Cirque du Soleil can still make modern audiences gasp from excitement and shock, and The Illusionists does the same thing. I lost count of the number of times the couple in front of me were huddled together, watching the action on stage through their fingers. Or the woman behind me loudly asking anyone who would listen “how did they do that?!” It’s impressive stuff.
There’s a little here for everyone; The Trickster returns, causing mischief and playing with the audience (don’t sit in the front if you don’t want to be part of the show). The Warrior’s weaponry and martial arts skill made for some terrifying close calls with performers and audience members alike. The Deceptionist captures the essence of big, flashy, Vegas-style stunt magic and brings it roaring to life in The Civic auditorium. The beauty of this format is that none of the styles of magic become too repetitive, too stale. Before you can figure out how they’re pulling off the tricks in front of you a new performer is on stage with an all new mind-blowing stunt. This is a magic show for the short attention spans of the News Feed-refreshing social media generation.
The Illusionists 2.0 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, because it doesn’t have to. The premise of the original show was so good that with a refreshed lineup it was more than ready to head on the road again. Complete with a new lineup, new set, new tricks and new surprises this show will more than deliver its share of glitz, music, drama, stunts and, of course, magic.
The Illusionists 2.0
Until September 13
The Civic, Auckland
Tickets from Ticketmaster