Review: Cheesy old tricks get bold new twist

By Janet McAllister

1 comment
Magic crew use hype, skill and bombast to dazzle audience

One big, slick, cheesy magic show promised; one big, slick, cheesy magic show delivered. If you think you'll like The Illusionists by the look of the advertising, you will. They know what they're doing, and they do it well. The tricks and stunts are classic rather than original but they're still the great puzzlers. And, even at nearly three hours, the show entertains with hype, skill, personality and bombast.

It's a dark carnivalesque jumble of sub-culture styles - punk, steampunk, goth - wrapped up in haze, adorned with fireworks and amplified on a mega-screen. There are dancers, and a band with hilarious attitude and fly glasses.

The seven featured magicians/contortionists working mostly separately do all the oldest tricks in the book: cards, ropes, doves and scarves, levitation, disappearances - the only one missing is producing rabbits out of hats. Yes, of course a woman is sawn in half. The Anti-Conjuror (Dan Sperry), looking like a magic Marilyn Manson, does have one original "shock illusion": he makes a lifesaver appear by pulling at his throat skin with dental floss.

The funny flirty Trickster (Jeff Hobson) - a blond dandy in a hounds-tooth suit - holds the show together and in between the grand spectacles, makes it up-close and personal. At first his humour seems very sharp - is he really going to make that kid from the audience cry? - but he has us in the palm of his hand soon enough.

There is a lot of throwing things into the audience and hauling "volunteers" up on stage, keeping us all excitedly tense, hoping not to be hit or picked. "Where are you from? Peppercorn?" asks The Gentleman of one victim from Papakura.

The Mentalist's first long-haul trick is the only let-down, a potential explanation being easily deduced (and I don't mean his send-up of bad tarot readings), but his second is far more impressive.

Flash, flash, dazzling flash! Welcome to a little bit of Vegas.

- NZ Herald

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