The opening of The Illusionists was a fast paced, exciting and dangerous five minutes with all seven of the acts flying round the stage showing us a little taste of what we could expect. However when the music ended (the live band was a great touch) and the show began, everything seemed to just grind to a halt.
Don’t get me wrong, the skill of these magicians is second to none and all involved are obviously great at what they do but the structure of the show was clunky and even the dancers, who set the stage between each act, couldn’t seem to liven things up.
The cast of seven would appear one after the other (sometimes out of thin air) and perform a ten to fifteen minute segment. This was probably meant to keep the show fresh and exciting but all it really did was slow the whole thing down and never let us fully involve ourselves with the acts.
The first half ended on a top note with Scotland’s answer to Sherlock Holmes. Colin Cloud picked two people at random from the thousand strong audience and told us their job, phone number and even what they had eaten earlier in the evening, allowing himself to receive the biggest applause of the night.
Britain’s Got Talent runner up Jamie Raven brought a wonderful charm to his tricks but I couldn’t help feeling I had seen it all before. Although he was easy to watch and enjoyable to listen to, I was expecting something a bit more exciting from Britain’s newest celebrity magician.
The second half started nicely with a surprise act from ITV2’s Ben Hanlin, who finally got the audience laughing with his hidden camera antics he had filmed in the foyer before the show.
Hanlin was followed by The Weapon Master, Ben Blaque, who managed to bring the whole of the Shaftesbury Theatre to silence whilst he skilfully shot an apple off his own head.
The final act of the evening, David Williamson, gave out the vibe of a children’s entertainer at first but as I began to switch off, his audience rapport and raccoon sidekick Rocky, sucked me back in and for the first time in the night I found myself laughing out loud.
Seven massively talented people whose combined efforts fall slightly short of the mark. Separately, in a solo show I’m sure they would be phenomenal but trying to fill two hours was just a bit too much of a stretch for The Illusionists.
Review by Hugh Roberts
THE ILLUSIONISTS – WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE – the world’s best-selling touring magic show which has sold out in 71 cities across 17 countries – comes to London’s West End for the first time, starring the UK’s hottest magician Jamie Raven.
THE ILLUSIONISTS features a cast of seven magical superheroes including:
The Magician, Jamie Raven. The runner-up in Britain’s Got Talent 2015, Jamie’s first audition for the smash hit ITV show has been watched by 10 million people on YouTube, to date, and he wowed audiences of over 13 million during the live final last month. This is his West End debut.
The Escapologist, Andrew Basso. Italy’s star escape artist, Andrew considers Houdini his hero and is fast becoming one of the world’s most popular illusionists. He is the only person in the world to perform Houdini’s famous Water Torture Cell with absolutely no covers.
The Inventor, Kevin James. Known for innovative illusions, Kevin is an inventor, comedian and collector of the strange and unusual. Kevin is one of the most prolific inventors of magic in the world and has created some of the most celebrated illusions of the last century.
The Deductionist, Colin Cloud. A forensic mind reader and the closest thing in the universe to the real life Sherlock Holmes. Mixing mind magic and brain science he’ll leave you convinced he’s a mystical savant with the hypnotic powers of a calculated angel. He’s potentially the most dangerous man in the world. Luckily, he’s on our side.
The Warrior, Ben Blaque. One of the only performers on earth to attempt this type of stage performance, Ben Blaque has dazzled crows across this world with his completely unique display of archery and showmanship.
210 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8DP