So a few weeks ago I headed to London on the National Express bus for a whistle stop tour to London.
To see the Impossible Live.
Well, even though it has nothing to do with children’s entertainment, I am still fascinated not only by magic, but by stagecraft and performances and whether this show lived up to its well-marketed hype.
Set in London’s Leicester square theatre of The Noel Cowell Theatre, I was perched precariously in the Gods / Balcony. As a magician I was looking at it through the eyes of a magician who also performs stage shows.
The set certainly had a west end feel. The acts included were all signed or part of the somewhat incestuous ‘Objective Productions’ i.e. The acts had worked in the past on TV for this particular production company in some form or another.
The audience were treated to a range of classic Las Vegas style illusions and the whole show was held together by a somewhat loose theme of a child searching for magic. I personally felt the age of the child was maybe a few years too old or certainly he was too tall for the character and quitter moments he spent with Luis De Matos didn’t work as well as if it had been a younger boy. Nonetheless he acted well.
The show itself, was excellent but sadly it left me frustrated in a couple of ways; one the trap that Derren has slowly fallen into – that of using close up magic using monitors to communicate it to the audience at the back with. Derren – does however use this successfully however I felt there were too many close up magic tricks for a stage show – the audience seemed happy but I was somewhat disappointed, as one of the cardinal rules of magic – not to turn your back on the audience was done by Luis de Matos as he delivered a card trick to a camera (not the audience) This was well handled but at times felt the music chosen throughout the show was a little poorly chosen and at times not necessary.
Jonathan Good was an excellent act – offering something novel (with his wife genuinely looking petrified as though she were about to say “Enough is enough Jonathan – fire the crossbow at your own bloody head!”) Ali Cook, (from Monkey magic too – offered some creative stage illusions – which were passable) Ben Hart- performed some lovely magic and was enjoyable to watch.
Luis de Matos, I felt was an unusual addition to the collective but his last trick which was fully interactive with the audience was received extremely well.
The two stand-out acts and for me, surprisingly so, were Jamie Allen who performed a brilliant laser routine and wonderful iPad act. He certainly seemed confident on the stage and both he and Chris Cox seemed natural stage performers compared to the others – and looking at their history within the magic community this certainly seemed to ring true, with the others certainly having TV time but not as much stage time.
Chris Cox, who, as a fellow mind-reader was going to look on with extra scrutiny but felt he was superb and could easily have his own show on the West End and hold it well. He differentiates himself well from Derren Brown and really evoked laughter and squirms and emotion from the audience which I felt the others, with the exception of Jonathan Goodwin failed to do.
There have been many reviews about the Impossible Live and most have been positive. I get frustrated to see ‘the top 8 performers in the world’ as I know of others who are superior in stage presence, skills etc. but guess that leads us back to the incestuous nature of magic.
Overall, I enjoyed myself and would give the show 7/10 – as a performer one thing I learned was that it is obvious who has had the greater experience of performing on a stage compared to those on TV.