I first went to a magicians show as a kid, and remember sitting entranced as the magician performed tricks that defied my child's view of reality. I think I grew up a little during that show, and no longer took things at face value. I would go so far as to say it was a childhood epiphany, so consequently, I was expecting great things from the Illusionists Show.
There was the Trickster who performed the sort of magic performed at a children's birthday party, except he was much much funnier and adept than any party magician I have ever seen.
The Gentleman and the Enchantress performed more conventional magic, including the ubiquitous 'sawing a lady in half' trick. Their style, props and banter with the audience however, raised the act to a magical level, if you forgive the pun. In particular, the Gentleman's simple trick involving the appearance and disappearance of five balls was breath taking in its mastery of the sleight of hand.
The Escapologist gave the audience a few knuckle biting moments whilst trying to escape from a large tank of water and displayed impressive flexibility and stamina of the human body. The Anti Conjurer had the audience cringing with his more macabre bodily tricks.
I found the Mentalist's mind reading act very interesting and entertaining, particularly when he revealed the feats of memory required to perform it.
The Inventor was perhaps my favourite act, in that it required the audience to suspend disbelief. As well as enjoying the spectacle, I found myself wondering how on earth he performed his magic. I was a six year old child again, entranced, bedazzled, but this time I knew what epiphany meant.
Overall, the Illusionists show is impressive. The individual magicians are outstanding at their particular brand of magic and all are consummate entertainers. There were lots of fireworks, dry ice, and a live band playing catchy tunes to boot. My problem with the show was that it lacked cohesion. The show lurched from Rocky Horror Show to kid's birthday party and back in a way that was slightly bizarre. It's a winner for older kids and magic lovers, and certainly an enjoyable evening's entertainment for non lovers, but the show needs a theme or a storyline to unify the exceptional but disparate acts into a truly magical experience. Go, but don't raid the kids piggy bank for it.
The Illusionsists are performing at the World Trade Centre until Friday 6th September.