The Illusionists 1903 in Adelaide

The Illusionists 1903. Photo by Alex Makeyev
The Illusionists 1903. Photo by Alex Makeyev

Who doesn’t like a bit of magic? It amazes us no end and makes us think hard about how the heck they do it! This slick and stylish show brings together some of the world’s best illusionists to present many of the well-known tricks, illusions and stunts; and they do it expertly and entertain us, totally.

We’re taken back to the turn of (last) century when magicians and illusionists were the stars of the day; the history aspect a nice touch, setting it all in 1903. It’s very indicative of the era; costumes and elegance within a carnival way of relating and presenting, (and with a cool hint of gothic and the macabre). We know many of these tricks; we’ve seen them on TV, in movies, and even in comics and cartoons. And in this show, they all come back to us in all kinds of wonderful ways.

We so want to believe this stuff is real; we so know that it isn’t! And even though several times I think that I had it all worked out, there were many more that I had no idea at all how it happened.

We get the disappearing man who comes back as a woman and the man and woman being sawn in half; we watch the silver ball floating in the air – commanded by (what must be) sorcery, and we look in amazement as the fired bullet is caught in teeth. We get totally blown away at the card and coin tricks (how is this possible), and we go silent as the woman slowly rises and floats in space.

There’s excellent stunt work from Jonathon Goodwin (The Dare Devil), who among other death-defying feats, has himself stung up (upside down) to escape from his straightjacket as he gets set alight. There’s awesome acrobatic juggling work with loads of humour from Charlie Frye (The Eccentric), and Thommy and Amelie (The Clairvoyants) have us wondering, as he moves out into the audience and she tells us (blindfolded from on stage) what he’s found and who he’s talking to.

The Maestro, The Show Man and The Conjuress also brings us great tricks, each with their own unique flavour. But it is The Immortal Rick Thomas, one the world’s most successful illusionists who kept me guessing and fixated each time he took command; his disappearing acts and audience included elements really had me hypnotised. Thomas’s many years of illusion expertise and charm really work. (I’m still wondering how he gets those flapping pigeons from the handkerchief. Surely they can’t fit up his sleeve –or can they?)

There’s plenty of audience involvement, and after interval many of them up on stage. They have a ball, keep the talent accountable, and provide lots of laughs for the rest of us watching them.

This is a real family show that dines out fabulously on our fascination with trickery, and brings back a bit of the bright-eyed kid in all of us. “It’s all about your willingness to believe”, we are told from the stage… and yep, I reckon that just about sums it up. (Great accompanying band and set design too). See this show if you’re into tricks and magic you’ll be as intrigued as I was, I’m sure.

Stephen House

Stephen is a writer with numerous plays, exhibitions and short films produced. He has been commissioned often and directs and performs his work. He has won two AWGIE Awards from The Australian Writers Guild and an Adelaide Fringe Award (as well as more), and has received several international literature residencies. Stephen has been Artistic Director of many events. He has been performing his acclaimed solo show, “Appalling Behaviour” nationally from 2010 – 2014 (100 shows to date). Stephen has 2 new works in development.

Stephen House

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