As a fellow practitioner of the “dark arts”, I’ve long admired the work of Penn and Teller, yet I’ve never seen them live, as for the last nine years they’ve been based primarily in Las Vegas with their hit show at the Rio Hotel.
After a hiatus of 15 years they announced they were returning to the UK for five dates only, I immediately booked my tickets and have been waiting patiently.
Last nights performance was certainly the best magical performance I’ve ever seen.(I’ve sat through some truly dire magic acts in my time) The magic truly was magical, mouths were just dropping, gasps were audible as they performed their effects. From the opening where a block is smashed off Teller’s head, to the quiet but poignant fire eating end, this was a stupendous piece of live entertainment.
Of particular joy to me was seeing Teller perform his “Shadows” effect, this is a beautiful piece of theatre. Rarely is a magician so creative and clever. His “Misers Dream” effect where coins are produce literally from nowhere, again was just gorgeous and the climax, literally took my breath away (you’ll have to go see them to find out what happens.)
Penn handled his spectators with such charm and reassurance it was a pleasure to see how they interacted and included them in the show. Penn is a consummate raconteur and showman and his witty lines, slick and fast paced presentation was a great foil to the silence of Teller. Penn’s nail gun trick had me wincing, but in a good way!
The final monologue was a great way of bringing the show to a close and Penn’s fire eating was wonderful and as he stated, “not a trick, just skill and getting used to be burned”
To describe this as a “magic show” , really would be to belittle it, it is a piece of theatre (which most magic acts are anything but). As they renounce religious beliefs, charlatans and psychics, you get caught up in their passion that the human being has an ability to see the miraculous when actually it’s aways just a trick. I’m currently studying a module on “Theatre of the Absurd” at college, and without wanting to sound pretentious, this show fits perfectly into that genre of theatre (looking in the programme, some of their influences were Absurdists).
I left the theatre in wonder, and a smile on my face content in the knowledge that I went to see the best magicians on the face of the planet, I can assure you that’s no hyperbole, but a fact.