Christmas may have come and gone but there is still a hint of magic in the air as seven magicians take to the stage in the exhilarating show The Illusionists 2.0.
Bigger, bolder and definitely better-looking, this new generation of performers takes audiences on a rollercoaster ride into the realm of the impossible which not only raises the bar for magic shows, but makes it vanish into thin air.
Having been disappointed by 2012’s The Illusionists, I was initially sceptical about the new show. However, the intrigue began even before the doors of Her Majesty’s Theatre opened, when audience members were given a pair of 3D glasses and identical black envelopes – which we were told not to open until instructed.
This effective trick grabs your attention before you’re even seated, as you fight temptation to tear open the envelopes. But the wait is definitely worth it as The Master Magician (a suave and enigmatic Luis De Mato) takes the audience on an interesting exploration of chaos and order.
Those with weak stomachs will be shocked by the death-defying stunts of The Deceptionist (James More), while technology enthusiasts will love the 3D magic of The Futurist (a cheeky and comedic Adam Trent).
Reignite your sense of childlike wonder with The Unusualist (Australian Raymond Crowe); witness the amazing sleight-of-hand abilities of The Manipulator (Yu Ho-Jin) and laugh along with The Hypnotist (Dr Scott Lewis) as he puts 30 audience members through their paces (volunteer for this one if you dare).
My own favourite is the show’s bad boy The Warrior (an imposing Aaron Crow), whose performance repertoire includes swords, switchblades and crossbows. With his steely gaze and formidable stage presence he sends chills down the spine and hearts racing each time he silently stalks through the audience, searching for volunteers. Adrenalin junkies will love The Warrior – but be prepared to risk life and limbs if you fall under his gaze.
Accompanied by a small team of Lady Gaga-inspired dancers, each man confidently takes to the stage, delivering a powerhouse performance. The show’s ever-changing format allows the illusionists to draw out their acts and, unlike in 2012’s show, each spends equal time on stage, with Her Majesty’s Theatre providing an excellent setting.
With its high-energy performances, fantastic use of 3D technology and higher levels of audience participation, The Illusionists 2.0 puts its predecessor to shame. The only drawback was the unnecessarily loud acoustics, which echoed painfully around the expansive theatre.
The Illusionists 2.0 is at Her Majesty’s Theatre until January 5.
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