Andrew saying. “There’s a new play by Caryl Churchill play we must go!” or “If only Pinter had written just one more play before he died” or maybe Phil saying “I really liked that new show, the one with the park benches, balloons and shopping trolleys”.
Getting Andrew and Phil to watch a magic show is much more likely. Magic is the new rock and roll apparently, but we’ve known that for some time. Impossible fills a gap at the Noel Coward theatre until ex Mrs Mission Impossible star (see what we did there?) arrives in Photograph 51.
If you’re planning to see this show (and why wouldn’t you be?) look away now or just skip to our rating. We can’t reveal how the tricks and stunts are done as we (largely) don’t have much of a clue (though it didn’t stop us speculating wildly post show), but this show is best visited having little or no idea of what is to come.
Much has been made of the fact that the illusionists on stage here are all men. The only lady sorceress, Katherine Mills, headlined to appear pulled out at the last minute leaving the only women on stage here as collective Debbie McGees: mere props to the tricks, striking poses whilst sporting more slap than a hooker’s dressing table.
As Anastasia Steeles to the illusionists Christian Greys, they are bundled into boxes, have arrows fired at them (Jonathan Goodwin* aiming at his own wife!) or are strapped to tables and have unspeakable things done to them. Being chopped in half is err, only the half of it. A woman from the audience is forced to choose clothes from a wardrobe of ill-fitting clothes and get dressed on stage. Yet men are bondaged up in a straight jackets or set on fire or manacled underwater too (Ali Cook). It seems the stage version of Fifty Shades of Grey has arrived sooner than expected.
A car disappears before your very eyes. Well almost. If you don’t count the curtain pulled around it. Digital conjuror Jamie Allan moves from mildly underwhelming to an astonishingly spectacular how-does-he-do-it? juggling act with laser beams. Chris Cox, one of the few who gets the audience on side with humour, dazzles with mind reading so extraordinary the only possible explanation could be that some members of the audience are in on it, which would render the stunt redundant.
The show loses pace when we’re forced to watch close up magic on screens particularly when a section is transmitted from the dress circle. It’s an astonishing piece of card dexterity but we’d go to the O2 if we wanted to watch ‘live’ entertainment on big screens. Phil was particularly unsettled by the saliva involved.
Luis de Matos involves the whole audience in a trick where you have to follow his instructions extremely carefully for it to work. Phil was left completely baffled by it at the time, but if you apply a bit of logic it’s not impossible to work out how it was achieved.
Andrew later enthused “If only all theatre could be like this”. With Derren Brown’s Miracle on his way to the Palace and The Illusionists coming to the Shaftesbury Theatre (with that rather attractive man from Britain’s Got Talent who produced a large chopper from nowhere – a trick he’s unlikely to repeat as the finale of this show features a helicopter) it seems Andrew’s wishes are well on their way to becoming true.
We’re a bit late getting this review up as the show does its own disappearing act on Saturday. But if this kind of show is your kind of thing then you should pop along before it goes.
Of course none of it is impossible, but it’s flipping entertaining. What is impossible is the possibility that Phil and Andrew might plan a trip to New York and remortgage their homes to get tickets for a hip hop/rap musical, however much of a smash hit it is purported to be. If that starts an already predicted trend in new musicals we’re outta here thank you very much and will just stick to our magic shows.
*Jonathan Goodwin isn’t appearing for the last days of the run, which is good news for his wife.