By Adam Patel
This Saturday my parents drove down from Yorkshire and visited me in London for the first time since I moved here. And what do you do when you come to London? Watch a West End show! And being a little biased, I opted for The Illusionists which is currently doing a run until January 3rd at the Shaftesbury Theatre.
Much in the same vein as this summer’s The Impossible, The Illusionists features an ensemble of magicians each specialising in a different sub-niche of magic and bringing all of that together in one spectacular West End show.
I shall try to review it without giving anything away or spoiling it for anybody.
Colin Cloud, also known as The Deductionist, made a great compere to the show starting with a bit of intimate stage mentalism more typical of a one man show than a West End show, similar to the type of stuff Derren Brown does, but I felt Cloud had made it his own and done what was necessary to sufficiently differentiate himself from Brown.
But after that it all kicked off… Gothic dancers lead the way into magic that was much more Vegas as each of the illusionists was introduced, promising two hours of sleight-of-hand, mind reading, deductive reasoning, escapology, card manipulation and stage illusions.
Jamie Raven repeats a lot of the material he performed on Britain’s Got Talent earlier this year. I was filming a TV show at the time and was therefore very busy, so hadn’t really seen him on the TV albeit a couple of links that various people had sent me. I was convinced of his ability and still feel it was a travesty that he came second to a group of dogs on BGT.
I enjoyed watching Colin Cloud, not least because my girlfriend ended up on the stage after catching Sherlock’s hat!
Den Den, the Japanese card manipulator was very typically Japanese. I don’t doubt his skill – it’s certainly far greater than mine in that department – but I felt some of his routines ‘went on a bit’. My favourite bit from him was the finale.
The Inventor was a pleasure to watch. He does a weird cross between stage illusions and what I’d call bizarre or shock magic. Cutting people in half like you’ve never seen before. I won’t say any more than that other than that his stage sets were the best.
David Williamson, whom I hadn’t heard of until last week when I saw him perform at the Old Vic Variety Night, as a pleasure to watch. Laugh out loud hilarious, his magic is verging on lame comedy magic which I usually don’t like, but I guess like anything else in life, when it’s done really, really well, I like it. And Williamson does it well. I didn’t feel he really got to fully show his worth at the variety show, but in The Illusionists, his act is exceptional and exactly what a show like that needs to create the mood and tone variation required to sustain interest during a two hour magic show.
Where I felt The Illusonists fell down (sorry!) is with The Weapons Master. I felt The Impossible’s Crowe was fathoms better. His stage presence was probably the best I’ve ever seen for a silent performer and he involved the audience, as I believe one should, in a show of this nature. Though, I’d wager that it could have been something like an insurance issue that prevented that in The Illusionists.
But without question I enjoyed the show and I think it’s well worth watching for both adults and children.