REVIEW: IMPOSSIBLE (Noel Coward Theatre) ★★★
Although I am partial to a magic trick or two (favourites include the disappearing gin and tonic), it is my partner who really enjoys magicians and their spectacles. So when the chance to see 7 magicians in one night came along, we jumped at the chance to see what wonders there were to behold.
And there was a lot to take in. Impossible brings together a nice range of magicians, from daredevils to psychics, and strings them loosely together though voice overs explaining a vague history of magic. The range of magicians also means there are also variations in the quality of the acts; while some manage to pull the rabbit out of the hat, others go up in a poof of smoke.
Stand out performances included the daredevil Jonathan Goodwin whose act involves a bed of nails, crossbows and even setting himself on fire. There is a real sense of danger with Goodwin’s act and he manages to build the tension so well several moments have to be watched through fingers.
On the opposite end of the magical spectrum is Ben Hart’s delicate and intricate sleight of hand. Styled as a turn of the century gentleman, Hart embodies a steam punk-esque silent era star and the control he has over his craft is exciting to watch. Andrew D Edwards’ design works incredibly well with Hart’s style and combined it crosses the act over from magic to art.
Although all the acts have their own style and clearly have talent, the show’s pacing and direction from Llyod Wood means that the magicians are never given enough space to breathe through the act and at times it does feel like a conveyor belt. I would have liked perhaps 2 less magicians in order to give the ones included enough time to really build the tension and completely wow the audience. The trouble is that some acts clearly have higher budgets than others which have driven the ticket prices up. I would rather have watched Magical Bones, Chris Cox and Ben Hart in a smaller theatre where the intimacy would make their misdirection even more impressive.
Overall, Impossible is an entertaining evening and several of the acts genuinely had me gasping in disbelief. Nice design touches meant that the overall show had a very vaudevillian feel but at times it felt a little style over substance. A bit of tweaking and rejigging and this show would be a hot contender for excellent family entertainment for little and big kids alike.
Reviewed by Roz Carter
Photo: Helen Maybanks
IMPOSSIBLE is playing at the Noel Coward Theatre until 27 August 2016. Tickets