Last night was press night at the latest Magic Show to open in the West End. If you like Magic this is a must see for you. If you are indifferent to magic then this is a must see for you and if you really don’t like magic but like superb entertainment, suspense and action this is a must see.
All ways round, this is a great night’s entertainment and with the exception of one expletive that slipped out, one that is suitable for all the family.
The line up of Chris Cox, Sabine Van Diemen, Richard Essien (Magical Bones), Jonathan Goodwin, Ben Hart, Richard Jones, Josephine Lee all blend together to deliver everything you would expect from a Vegas Extravaganza in the heart of the West End.
Each brings their own unique magical talents to ensure the show covers all aspects of Magic. Sabine Van Diemen sets the bar high with her opening act where flaming metal spikes appear to pass right through her. Later we see her turn the historical magical tables by sawing the show’s camera man Sam Quested in half. The whole illusion was well performed with great panache and good touches of humour. Who says Lady Magicians can’t compete with their male colleagues?
Ben Hart performed two classical style effects, firstly with a diminishing cards effect to a touching story of how he first got into magic and after the interval a classic billiard ball routine with excellent timing and demonstrating superb manipulation. I especially liked the transition from a smoke filled bubble to a white billiard ball.
Just before the interval he treated us to a truly electrifying illusion where a (supposedly) random audience member is transported from a stage right cage to a stage left cage courtesy of some electricity and Nikola Tesla. A really dramatic illusion with great sound effects. Randomly chosen, I leave you to decide.
When Magical Bones appeared he immediately enthralled the packed audience with some nifty dance moves before he bought us the evenings first taste of close up magic, with a burnt and restored note which dramatically reappeared from a seemingly impossible object and he combined this with a signed and lost card which he produced by throwing the deck in the air and caught the chosen card mid air whilst performing a back flip! Good luck to any reader who wants to try this one! In the second half he interacted fantastically with the audience in a “last two halves match” routine. He bought good humour and kept the pace going right through to the final match.
Josephine Lee dramatically got our attention by performing her version of the Houdini Water Torture Cell. We all know that it will be ok and she’ll escape (won’t she?) but she managed to hold the entire audience’s attention and squeezed every ounce of tension and drama with some great theatre before re-appearing in the balcony. During the second half she treated us all to a stunning illusion where she vanished from one sealed side of a circular wire cage, then shown both sides were empty, only to re-appear in the other side. Totally baffling!
Mentalism, as we know, can be a bit “so what?” both for a lay audience and magicians alike, so it’s very difficult to make it fun and entertaining. Nevertheless, Chris Cox succeeded on both counts. In the first half he performed with charm and great humour a “Create your own clothing label” routine with a finale that showed that the tee-shirt he was wearing already had a sewn in label bearing the name of the “New Brand name” that had only been created by an audience member during the performance.
In the second half he apparently read the mind of several audience members telling them things about themselves and doing things that they had requested before the show that had been in sealed envelopes for the whole show. These ranged from standing on one leg, singing a favourite song and wearing a specific item of clothing. The latter was a superb finale having the somewhat random request of wearing a giraffe body suit.
BGT 2016 winner Richard Jones appeared from a cage of flames to share with us a game of “Liar Liar”. To help in this he asked presenter Gaby Roslin to join him on stage and he determined which celebrity she had randomly chosen from a see though bag despite her answering every question she was asked with “No”. Not only did he determine the answer correctly but he cut a silhouette in paper of the chosen celebrity which turned out to be Her Majesty the Queen.
He then called to the stage a young helper from the audience Jack Hinde, who was totally unfazed by being on stage with Richard. When asked “have you done magic tricks before?” he boldly said “Yes” much to Richard’s amusement. He then did a Mental Photography routine where the deck fully printed and eventually became invisible in Jack’s hands.
Richard left us with a slickly executed torn and restored Impossible Poster. This young man’s career will go all the way helped by his charming and convivial personality.
The last act was Sabine with a brilliantly visual laser act. Perhaps my only negative in the whole show was that, although a good act, there were far stronger ones from those we had already seen to finish the show with.
So, that was just about all. A great evening made up of great acts covering all aspects of our art which when combined formed a fantastic night of Impossible Magical entertainment.
However, in my opinion, the whole show was taken from great to new heights of brilliance by Jonathan Goodwin. His presence on stage was assured and full of energy. His acts, again in my opinion were the best on show. Early in the first half, after he had an audience member to lie on a bed of nails, he trumped it by lying backwards on just one sharp nail while a breeze block was placed on his stomach and smashed with a sledge hammer. Pretty good for starters.
Later on he performed a Houdini straight jacket escape whilst suspended upside down. No great shakes I thought, until he was doused in petrol and set alight. A prompt escape was the only way to get to a fire extinguisher which was suspended next to him. Excitement and drama at its very best.
His last act involved skill and not illusion and involved firing a crossbow at items held against an elevated box by his wife, Katie. First a balloon was burst, then a flower stem was severed and then a piece of newspaper which was edge on to him .ie. he hit a target less than half a millimetre in width. Can’t top that, I thought. Wrong!
He then burst a balloon held just above her head by Katie whilst Jonathan was blind folded. That can’t be beaten, unless you are Jonathan Goodwin that is. They then revealed that within the box, where there were now some six or more arrows, there had been another member of the cast for the whole act. BRILLIANT! No other word for it.
It’s a limited run which ends on 27th August. This is just an amazing experience. I am certain it will sell out, so my advice is book your tickets as soon as you can.