johnathan head

Jonathan Goodwin, crossbow marksman and daredevil in the Harry Houdini mould

Impossible

The New Alexandra Theatre

****

WELL is was certainly possible, after all we saw it with our own eyes, but as to it being believable . . . well that is another matter.

Seeing might be believing except when you can’t believe what you have seen of course.

Impossible was a West End hit, a spectacular magic show, which is now on tour with five skilled magicians and a daredevil, death defying stunt act.

The show is a throwback to variety days and although it was all about magic and derring-do, even that created its own vaudeville of illusion with different styles, different eras and different genres all vying for our attention.

And there was no shortage of volunteers (volunteer in the loosest sense of the word in some cases) encouraged up on stage to assist and to add some audience oversight.

There was Michael in his Acorn’s Hospice jacket who had his pockets picked so often by Lee Thompson he was surfing his own personal crime wave. Lee also took goodwin on fireus through a variation on the sawing a lady in half trick as well as a very clever trick performed by the entire audience.

Then there was volunteer Owen who demonstrated his card ripping skills. While daredevil Jonathan Goodwin ripped a complete pack in half, under his tutelage, Owen eventually managed to rep in half . . . a card. Mind you, to be fair, ripping playing cards is not as easy as you might think.

Goodwin is the daredevil. He was fastened in a straitjacket, doused in fuel set alight and suspended from the flies having to escape to grab the fire extinguisher suspended at his side to put himself out. Spectacular and dangerous stuff.

Trial by fire: Goodwin again, straitjacketed and on fire

He also fires a crossbow at items held by an assistant including a blindfold shot, bursting a balloon held above her head. And if that is not enough, there is an even more remarkable twist in that particular tail.

The cast also included illusionist Josephine Lee who produces Chris Cox, the mind reader who can’t read minds, from a cage filled with fire. Magical Bones, a break dancing street magician and the remarkable Ben Hart.

Hart is responsible for the most spectacular trick of the show, transporting a volunteer from acage on one side of the stage to one on the other, surrounded by a set resembling a Victorian mad scientist’s electricity lab.

He also produces the most intimate moment sitting in the audience to perform a trick we have all seen, cutting a rope in half and joining it together again. Nothing new except Hart added a host of variations and with a close up camera on him had nowhere to hide any failing in technique – quite brilliant to watch.

His silent movie style act producing and disappearing billiard balls was another masterclass in manipulation.

Cox produces some moments of clever mind reading while the skilled, former professional hip-hop dancer Bones produced not only some amazing card tricks, involving catching a chosen card during a back somersault, but a remarkable trick involving a £20 note. Logic should explain it, but the art of the magician is to steer sight and mind away from logic. See what you are shown, not what is there to see.

As a show it is entertainment from start to finish. Good use of video cameras for close up work is well done and although much of the show is standard trickery it is all here under one roof and it is fascinating to see the art of magic and illusion performed at such a uniformly high standard.

That being said it was a pity the show just . . . well petered out. Bones performed his clever trick with a £20 note which was good, but no big finish, and that was it. It was almost as if someone had seen the time and there was a rush to end the show. Everyone arrived on stage to take a bow and, then that perennial piece of theatre magic took place - the house lights went on and the audience vanished.

It is a show that needs a big finish, a spectacular illusion or deed of derring-do, a piece of outrageous magic to send the audience home with a wow factor as well as the how factor . . . the one that has them wondering just how did they do that . . . To 20-02-16

Roger Clarke

16-02-16 

Hear Jonathan Goodwin, Chris Cox and Magical Bones talk about the show

Contents page Alex Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre