Theatre review – Champions of Magic

Champions of Magic

Grand Opera House, York

“Five world-class illusionists. Sold out shows across the globe. Five star rave reviews and a run in London’s West End.”

Well, I’ll give the Champions of Magic marketing team this: they know how to hype a show.

I really want it to work as I settle into the Grand Opera House, York. I love sleight of hand, sorcery and giggles as much as the next person.

And there’s plenty of those thanks to Young and Strange, the duo whose ’sawing a woman in half’ gags are pretty impressive, as is their banter. It’s matey fun where you don’t take things too seriously.

I can’t help but be reminded of Magicians, the Mitchell and Webb comedy movie from years ago that did a successful vanishing act despite being okay.

There’s a young Mexican illusionist whose levitating girl routine is effective, and he throws an escapology spot in there which elicits a whoop from me, despite a few dead moments that need more showbiz glamour.

There’s also a sassy American lady whose routines involving cards and rubber bands are fun, but as I’m sat in the gods and most of her act takes place downstairs and out of sight, I have to watch the routine on camera. A necessary evil maybe, but magic on video is not why you pay your money.

The whole thing is fun but a little awkward. A master of ceremonies is desperately needed to introduce the acts and segue between them. Instead they just sort of merge together.

Best of the bunch is a guy who has the mannerisms of David Tennant, the patter of Joe Lycett and looks like Declan Donnelly. His routines are often hilarious, well staged and he’s hugely likeable. He also knows what you’re thinking, and chances are you won’t mind a bit.

At times I feel like I’m on a cruise ship, watching a show that ticks the boxes and exploits well-worn magic gags, but needs something extra, like a race car desperate for a turbo charger.

So yes, it’s great fun, I laughed a lot and though it felt like I saw a tenth of the action on video, it proved great entertainment for a Friday night.

Would I rush back to see it again? Probably not. Maybe a bloke in a box apparently being perforated with sticks is awesome for those who’ve never seen this sort of thing before.

It is good family entertainment, and kids should love it. I’ve never forgotten the escapologist I saw as a youngster, so I’m guessing some of the young ’uns in the audience will be gobsmacked by what they’ve seen

And full marks to them all for effort.

It might not all work, and may not be the mind-blowing spectacular the adverts promise, but it is a fun night out even if at times it feels like a dry run for a bigger show.

To wrap things up, I’ll leave you with this old classic: Think of a number. Add 101. Subtract 51. Now add seven. Finally, take away the number you first thought of. The answer is 57, right?

And if you don’t know how that’s done, chances are you’ll love the show.

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