Festival Theatre, Thu Jan 15
I like nothing more than a show that is uplifting, takes you into another dimension of fun, awe and sheer magic and leaves you with a sense of wonder and wellbeing. This theatrical production uses the history of magic to take us back to classic magic acts and some of the most iconic illusions of The Golden Age, which was at its peak during the early 1900s. The set includes wonderful vintage posters of some of the greats of the past.
Each performer in this World Premiere of The Illusionists 1903 is an expert in their field and has a wonderful cross-section of skills to admire and marvel at. The first half introduces the performers, their characters and expertise and warms the audience up in preparation for the stunning second half full of surprises and huge illusions, where audience participation features quite strongly; adding authenticity to the illusions. The show is crafted as a theatrical experience of costumes, music, lighting and sets and is interwoven with a script that creates a seamless whole; unifying the diverse performances into a very satisfying program.
Rick Thomas – The Immortal – makes people disappear and appear in the most amazing and daring illusions that leaves the audience scarcely believing what they have just witnessed; where one thing is transformed into something completely different. People and white doves appear and disappear in thin air. Revealing the details would spoil your future enjoyment but suffice to say that his acts, for me, are a standout for the night.
Charlie Frye – The Eccentric – and his aloof sidekick are a witty duo that provides a link between some of the more shocking illusionists entertaining us with classic inventive juggling and comedy in a vaudeville style. Jonathon Goodwin – The Daredevil – demonstrates a traditional bed of nails and his ability to withstand pain. He also provides one of the most terrifying stunts of the evening using a straitjacket, fire and trapeze and creates even more scary moments demonstrating his skills with sharp knives using a nervous audience member as a guinea pig; a highlight of the second half.
Mark Kallin – The Showman – and his elegant wife Jinger Leigh – The Conjuress – provide some of the most beautiful moments as well as some of the more confronting and shocking; creating tricks that defy explanation. The Clairvoyants – Thommy Ten and Amélie Van Tass – completely blew us away with their ability to read minds and identify random objects put forward by the audience. “How do they do that?” reverberated around the theatre.
One of my favourites was Armando Lucero – The Maestro – who with the simplest of tools, coins and cards created magic that left us awed by his ability to make things appear and disappear. His sleight-of-hand artistry is incredible to watch and the audience could see everything clearly with the help of an onstage camera, which projected what was happening on a screen (cleverly disguised as a mirror) above the stage.
The fabulous period costumes by international designer Angela Aaron were stunning and furthered the visual effect of the era, while the music of Composer and Musical Director Evan Jolly helped to set the tone of each illusion.
Some of the more dramatic pieces were pre-recorded by The City of Prague Symphony Orchestra, while the occasionally subtle, jolly and, at times, simply beautiful music was performed live by the onstage band consisting of Kate Golla [piano], Evan Jolly [trumpet and keyboards], Steve Rossell [bass] and James Gambold [drums].
This is an amazing show not to be missed. Even the most ardent sceptic will be convinced that magic is real. In this age of technology and complexity it is a real treat to escape for a couple hours into a world of magic and wonder.
by Taissa Ceric.
The Illusionists 1903 performs at Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, at various times until Sun Jan 25.
Images courtesy of Dylan Evans[Aditional notes by Catherine Blanch]