Impossible… The word has connotations of the awe inspiring, the draw dropping, danger, a flair for the dramatic, the list is endless! Well, there’s a new show in town, a magic show to be exact that promises audiences the Impossible. This very promise however is not fully realised.
Gelled together by the curiosity of a young aspiring magician, Impossible showcases the showmanship and skill of all magicians on the line up. The attempt to have this young magician add a sense of narrative doesn’t succeed in its sentimental intentions, and it becomes easy to forget that the boy is sat stage right, watching the action as the audience do. For future reference, the narrative can either be scrapped, or incorporated in a smarter manner.
The word Impossible is prominent in my mind, and there are sparkles of this promise with the likes of Jonathon Goodwin‘s escapology trickery, whereby he races against the clock to remove a strait jacket whilst hanging upside down before he risks the consequence of being set alight. He brings a similar level of jeopardy with his ‘lying on a bed of nail’ trick, where he crazily tilts backwards and places his weight on a single nail, whilst a petrified audience member is left with the unenviable task of hitting a concrete slab placed across his chest with a sledgehammer. These tricks are what deserve the production its title.
Ali Cook earns the trust of the audience with his effortless switching places act. As the audience meticulously attempt to work out how he’s performed the trick, it’s a case of blinking and missing it. Chris Cox shatters the dark and brooding perception of magicians with his vibrant charm. Described as a ‘mind bending mind reader’, he succeeds in his intentions to have audience members thinking on his wavelength, however the act is lost on me. Perhaps because I would have preferred for him to have the whole auditorium thinking of the same word, or, for there to have been better validation of the certain word being thought of by it being placed in an envelope, rather than going by both the audience member and the magician’s word.
The show, to give it it’s dues is unique in that, as much as I am aware of, there isn’t a magic show of this scale in the UK, however ideas feel outdated. Reference is constantly made to Houdini, who is hailed as a God of magic, this obviously creates an accessible reference point to novices like myself and the more well versed experts. I’m left thinking however that surely Houdini was inspired by magicians before him and contemporaries, as well as the magicians of today being inspired by pioneers of the 20th and 21st century. These are ideas I would love to see more of, an alternative perspective to the magical landscape. TV screens captures the subtler tricks, which leaves me wondering whether I could have watched the card tricks in the comfort of my own home. Magic shows are a genre of theatre I would love to see more of on stage, however I’d like to see a new vocabulary of tricks in the 21st Century. 3/5
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Impossible is currently showing at the Noel Coward Theatre until Saturday 29th August. For more information on the production, visit here…