The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible
Opera House, Blackpool
Looking more like they have stepped off the pages of a Marvel comic these are seven of “the world’s greatest magicians in a stage spectacular.”
And on this occasion the claim is not some feat of magical misdirection, but an accurate description of a show that earned its standing ovation.
With stage names like The Trickster, The Inventor or The Enchantress they are among the superheroes of a conjuring elite pretty well based in Las Vegas, but assembled together for a world-class touring production.
It’s presented in the in-vogue steam punk style with a rocking house band and dance troupe who join in all the visual trickery.
It’s the kind of show that leaves vivid magical memories burned on the senses.
Like where the bejeezers did that full-size railway locomotive come from, or—at the other end of the scale—where did that paper flower go, last seen dancing around in mid-air in front of a wide-eyed little girl from the audience.
And it’s the audience that becomes an essential prop to all this stagecraft, whether as unwitting magicians’ assistants, or as the backdrop to illusions performed in their midst.
In turn everything is caught live on cameras and beamed directly to a giant screen above the stage, so that even table-top magic is caught in close-up.
Jeff Hobson—a familiar face here from his appearances at the resort’s annual magic convention—charms, wisecracks with, and cajoles the crowd as master of ceremonies. His slow-motion re-creation of a classic little trick, with every gurning move on his face caught on the big screen, is now another of those vivid memories.
And Andrew Basso earned his title as The Escapologist by reviving Houdini’s escape from a water-filled tank in just a little over three minutes. Silencing a Blackpool audience for that amount of time is probably the best trick of the evening.
Shows of this standard don’t come cheap, or sadly on this occasion for more than one night. Next weekend it’s in Manchester.
If only the resort could pull more out of the hat...
Reviewer: David Upton