The opening of The Illusionists lent itself beautifully to the scenes from the Now You See Me franchise. As the lights lowered, the music built to a crescendo.
A blanket of fog descended on the stage while the silhouette screen came alive to eventually reveal the stars of The Illusionists: David Williamson (The Trickster), Krendl (The Escapist), Ben Blaque (The Weapon Master), Den Den (The Manipulator), Chris Cox (The Mentalist), Mark Kalin (The Showman), Jinger Leigh (The Conjuress) and, of course, Darcy Oakes (The Grand Illusionist).
A pokerfaced Den Den left the audience entranced by his card and paper tricks.
As much as they looked on with irrepressible curiosity, seeking some telltale sign to his trick, they eventually conceded defeat and applauded his ingenuity.
The Showman and The Conjuress maintained the spellbinding atmosphere with feats that have been seen on TV, stages and in movies on many occasions.
Of course, the trick to how he gets to saw her in half and how she escapes from a barrel struck by burning arrows remains a well-kept secret.
Their combined theatrical flair deserved a standing ovation as did her smooth and sultry voice, which had an hypnotic effect on the males in the crowd.
There were two moments in the show where I held my breath. The first one was when The Escapist reenacted Harry Houdini’s Chinese Water Torture Cell escape.
As the seconds ticked away, my nails dug into the seat until he freed himself.
This act required much focus and perfect timing and he pulled it off with aplomb, even if he did ruin a few manicures in the process.
Another illusion that hinged on meticulous attention to detail and concentration was executed by The Weapon Master and his perfectly straightened hair (that’s wasn’t part of the act but it worked for his rock star persona). You will never look at a crossbow the same after watching his archery shtick.
The Grand Illusionist is easy on the eye, with a voice that’s just as seductive.
He had a few neat tricks up his sleeve but, for me, The Mentalist held the real ace on the night.
Bearing a physical resemblance to Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, he left the audience gasping in astonishment as he struck up a connection with members of the audience and then proceeded to probe through their thoughts. One of which involved tights and a unicorn. That’s all I will say…
He had a quirky way of connecting with the chosen few, which included tasting the gargled water (or did he?) of an audience member.
Also making large deposits of laughter on the night was The Trickster, whose tongue-in-cheek humour had a spellbinding effect on the young and young at heart.
One of my favourite parts of the show was when he got four eager kids onto the stage. Unbeknown to him, he had a cute livewire in his midst, with Adam Nanguia. This adorable four year old unwittingly gave the audience a private comic show with his surprised facial expressions – especially when he realised he was also on the big screen.
The Illusionists is all smoke and mirrors and audiences will lap up the wonderful mix of intrigue, playfulness and mind-blowing acts. Magic lives here!