Pros: Seemingly impossible feats of illusion – wait, where did that girl’s body go? Oh don’t worry, the legs are over there.
Cons: Mind reading will only ever really make an impression on the individual whose mind is being manipulated.
For a production that brings together those performance arts most commonly associated with the bright lights and grand casinos of Las Vegas, the glamourous Noël Coward Theatre is the perfect West End home. In Impossible, however, the stakes have been raised, as the players gamble with life rather than cards, and magic, trickery and illusion are employed to test the limitations of our perceptions, and of reality.
International acts have been drawn from the world of magic to come together in a variety style show directed by Anthony Owen. Fragments are made whole by the peripheral narrative of a young boy reading a book about magic: this is his – and the audience’s – introduction to those death-defying tricks of escapology, unimaginably deft card tricks and grand illusions that form the history of magic over the last few centuries.
The structure works, and the accompanying sound and lighting design are sophisticated enough to make this feel like a truly modern interpretation of magic. Beautiful women risk their necks in stunts, but these brave and nimble performers are a far cry from the traditional image of the ‘Magician’s Assistant’. No inactive smiles on the side-lines, but twenty first century witches who freelance as supermodels.
It was refreshing to see such a diverse entertainment offering in the real centre of the West End. Ticket buyers on the fence should take the plunge, because it’s not often something like this appears in the Big Smoke and it might not happen again for a while. If you’re concerned about audience participation then don’t worry: it’s not obligatory, and when we were asked by Luis De Matos to play a part we didn’t even have to leave our seats – with several sheets of paper he left us all dumbfounded.
In fact with De Matos, Ali Cook, Jamie Allan and Ben Hart I was continually left clueless as to how they achieved the illusion. Jonathan Goodwin, a daredevil by profession, had our teeth grinding in anticipation as he was set on fire and shot a crossbow at his wife (whoops, sorry love it slipped!). I was less convinced by Chris Cox’s mind reading, as there wasn’t really a barometer to test it against unless you’re the one having your mind read – but I’m sure those who did enjoyed the experience. I won’t enumerate every disappearance and conjuring trick, but just say that each was entertaining and exciting for the very fact that they seemed, impossible!
Creative Director: Anthony Owen
Stage Director: Lloyd Wood
Producer: Jamie Hendry Productions
Design: Andrew D Edwards
Lighting: Tim Lutkin
Sound: Gareth Owen
Booking Until: 29 August 2015
Box Office: 0844 4825137
Booking Link: http://impossiblelive.com/