Review: The Illusionists

20:54, May 23 2013
ILLUSIONISTS: The whole gang.

The Illusionists
The Civic, Auckland until June 2

Wow. I knew a magic show would likely blow my mind in some small respect but I had no idea The Illusionists would leave me as astounded as it did.

The Illusionists consists of seven performers, who each specialise in a different type of magic performance.

We've spent the morning here at work going over which aspects amazed us the most - my girlfriend Anna and workmate Bridget were both taken by the escapologist (it possibly helped that he was a chiselled Italian).

He escaped handcuffs, leg stocks and a combination lock while locked upside-down inside a water chamber for over two and a half minutes - in full view.

I didn't feel the nervousness they did but I was absolutely mystified by some of the bigger tricks - two people cut in half: one conventional "lady in a box" that still baffled everyone, and one, even better, man sawn in half while standing and continuing to move round on his hands.

The Vegas-spectacular style of the show makes for a grand-scale magic revue you're probably not going to see repeated here for a long time but it also presented a few challenges - the hard-working hip-hop band probably wanted more from the crowd and New Zealand audiences particularly loath to "put their hands in the air".

The best thing about the revue style is that if you're not taken with one act, another will be along in just a minute.

Philip Escoffey's mentalist mind-reading and tarot card piece left me a bit cold but "Anti-conjuror" Dan Sperry's emo/goth act pulling far too many live white birds out of thin air was in equal parts thrilling and baffling.

The action is linked by excellent comedy and up-close magic from "trickster" Jeff Hobson - his only misstep was accidentally pulling soon-to-be-international-pop-sensation Willy Moon from the crowd for his act which led to a strange split focus for the act.  

My favourite, however was "the inventor" Kevin James. From a charming piece making a paper rose dance for a wide-eyed little girl to the finale (which I won't spoil) his aim was to provoke a sense of wonder. A goal which he surpassed in every one of his acts.

Not taking children to this show should be considered child abuse. Go see it.