The Illusionists at Shaftesbury Theatre
Following up a successful debut in Sydney opera house in 2012, The Illusionists’ touring magical spectacle has graced the stage across the globe in 40 countries and now makes a polished return to the Shaftesbury Theatre in London just in time for the school summer holidays.
This family-friendly production unfolds perfectly around its dynamic compere Paul Dabek (aka-The Trickster) as he introduces a rotating cast of uniquely talented magicians each bestowed with their own illusionist monikers. With names like The Manipulator, The Futurist or The Daredevil, each performer is unique in their skill-set as the Vegas-style show comes to life with high-octane rock music, lasers and blizzards of playing-card confetti.
There is some audience participation with young and old brought onto the stage and some fantastic interactive mind-reading from multi-award-winning entertainer Chris Cox (The Mentalist) but the audience surprisingly seem more captivated by the slower and beautifully delft sleight-of-hand card flutters from the elegant Yu Ho-Jin (The Manipulator) and the cute old-school shadow puppetry from Paul Dabek (The Trickster).
There are many defining moments where you feel you’re on the set of Britain’s Got Talent, especially when escape artist Jonathan Goodwin (The Daredevil) unveils his latest jaw-dropping feat or the softly spoken French illusionist Enzo Weyne (The Unforgettable) appears to break free from a box made of steel. Perhaps it’s also because there’s a cameraman on stage and the tricks unfold live on an adjoining television screen too.
Bringing some of the familiar magic up to date is technology guru Adam Trent (The Futurist) who uses high-tech hologram displays and LED mechanics to give the show a more modern feel, whilst the grand scale illusions from James Moore (The Showman) are undeniably breathtaking, especially when assisted by a couple of ninja acrobatic henchmen.
Glamorous assistants and dancers parade across the stage, which feels slightly outdated, but director Neil Dorward has tried to fine-tune any other antiquated edges, with costume designer Angela Aaron offering sharply tailored suits and compulsory skinny jeans and the lighting designer, Paul Smith going all-out to match the fast-paced acts.
Beautiful and breathtaking, The Illusionists’ show has moved the art of magic into this century and it transpires as a brilliant production that has something for everyone.
The Illusionists is at Shaftesbury Theatre from 6th July until 1st September 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.