If The Illusionists were a colour it would be Lloyds Bank Racing Green. If it were a food it would be broccoli. If it were an event it would be Go Compare’s annual conference. It’s as middle-of-the-road as magic gets.
Take a line-up of seven male magicians (who knew you needed a magic wand dangling between your legs to be able to pull a rabbit out of a hat?), two spangly female ‘dancers’ (more pointing than dancing), throw in some dodgy digital effects, and what do you get? A knock-off Britain’s Got Talent.
Don’t get us wrong, the magnificent seven are great showmen — witty and theatrical with all the wizardry you’d expect from a magic show; and they’re certainly keeping Topman in business. But what makes the show awkward and corporate is the use of bland visual effects, cheap props and — in the most part — fairly unspectacular tricks. So much paraphernalia is thrown at the stage (screens, curtains, fire etc) that you don’t need to be David Copperfield to work out how the acts are managing to sneak under the boards for their big reveal.
One act, however, really stands out. Yu Ho-Jin (aka The Manipulator) simply uses a deck of cards and sleight of hand to wow the audience — a notable relief from all the smoke and mirrors from many of the other acts and something that genuinely impresses.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly, fun evening out with all the standard off-the-shelf magic tricks to keep the kids happy during the hols, then this show could be for you. If you’re looking to be blown away, it might be time to catch that plane to Vegas.
The Illusionists, Shaftesbury Theatre, 210 Shaftesbury Ave, WC2H 8DP. Tickets from £27, until 1 September 2019.
Last Updated 12 July 2019