Review: The Illusionists, Shaftesbury Theatre

The Illusionists is an excellent alternative to a family pantomime trip this Christmas. A feel good show, full of dramatic flair and tricks to make the audiences gasp, it showcases talented magicians from around the world. Each magician brings his own unique style and pizzazz to the flamboyant production.

The show is held together by compare and ‘The Deductionist’ Colin Cloud. With a background in police profiling, he deduces who you are by what your body is saying. He claims to be a real life Sherlock Holmes and his powers are certainly discerning. He even manages to tell you what you’ve had for lunch! Beware if you are sitting near the front of the stage as this show is rife with audience participation. It is good fun but if you are shy pick somewhere nearer the back.

The first magician is Jamie Raven, who originally had his big break from Britain’s Got Talent but is a dedicated artist and charming magician. To not give away spoilers, his magic of tearing up a newspaper is surprising and simply impressive.

The Illusionist also includes ‘The Manipulator’ Den Den who is an award-winning sleight of hand magician. Den’s fluid use of cards is remarkable. He makes cards appear from thin air and will make you furrow your eyebrows trying to work out how he made that swan appear.

To add tension to the show, the first act ends with ‘The Escapologist’ Andrew Basso who added Italian spice to the production with his Houdini escapology. The underwater escape is no trick and can easily go wrong. I did try to hold my breath with him and failed before he even settled into the cage. This dangerous and tense performance is the highlight of the show.

To counteract the tension ‘The Inventor’ Kevin James adds a quirky yet disturbing element with his sawn in half assistants and odd Frankenstein tricks of making mannequins come to life. James’s magic seemed dated and was the older influence of magic illusions which I found out of place amongst the contemporary and more baffling magic tricks.

‘The Trickster’ David Williamson was the fun element of the show. Warming the audience’s hearts with child participation and humorous tricks, he brought welcome hilarity to the otherwise tense acts.

The most edgy and anxious trick was by ‘The Weapon Master’ Ben Blaque. A crossbow master from America’s Got Talent, he lines up arrow after arrow of seemingly impossible shots. I dare say no one would volunteer as his assistant!

Overall, this is a production to appeal to the masses. It’s a great family show and you don’t need to be a certain age or even speak the language to enjoy the magic that unfolds.

The Illusionists is playing Shaftesbury Theatre until 3 January. For more information and tickets see Shaftesbury Theatre