The Illusionists 2.0 offers a profusion of illusion inventiveness and a quantity of big laughs. Unlike its predecessor, this new show doesn't belong in the top ranks of magical fare but, it contains enough thrills, charm, and warmth to make it a solid family entertainment. What really holds this sequel back is that it just doesn't seem epic enough to be a "summer sensation", then again, maybe that's a good thing because this group of seven magicians are more intimate and even at its weakest, this production is still a charmer.
Now that modern technology can conjure up almost anything, the challenge for this generation of spell-binders is to increase their creativity. Most of these magicians rise to that challenge with an enjoyable, and sometimes surprisingly invigorating marriage of the old and the new.
Despite being uneven and loosely structured, unlike the first Illusionists, this new show is another thrilling two hours of top class showmen delivering, danger, misdirection, mesmerism, oddity and conjuring which is everything you want in a magic programme.
The Master Magician (Luis De Mato) from Portugal is the master of ceremonies as he introduces, hosts and narrates some of the acts and does a neat trick with a goldfish tank. It's not high-stakes but its natty and suave.
James Moore (The Deceptionist) falls on his own sword both literally and figuratively as he escapes death but foreshadows his illusions which detract from their execution but leaves younger audience members flabbergasted.
Smart, fun, sassy and witty The Futurist (Adam Trent) uses fun and 3D technology to re-imagine old classic card tricks and then performs with LED lights to produce something rather spectacular.
Dr Scott Lewis (The Hypnotist) creates a rather standard hypnotism routine but it's not without its charm. While Adelaide's own Raymond Crowe (The Unusualist) is playful and inventive as he dances with clothes, clowns and closes the show with a sweet shadow puppet routine.
Belgian, Aaron Crowe (The Warrior) is moody, mute and magical as he uses dangerously uses weapons such as switchblades, swords, and bow and arrows, in hair-raising artifice that has the audience holding its breath. Without doubt he's a a strong, silent, showman who should not be missed.
Arguably, the star of the show is Yu Ho-Jin (The Manipulator) the winner of 2012's world championship for magicians. His sleight-of-hand is almost unbelievable and despite being able to see him fiddling under his clothes for his props, his manoeuvring of cards is masterful, surprising and graceful. One cannot take one's eyes from him and he deftly manipulates cards to appear and disappear in a variety of ways.
There are many magic moments in The Illusionists 2.0 and it would be churlish to reveal them. If you like magical performances this is a show that confirms the future of magic is in safe hands and also one that leaves us all humorously entertained.
Adelaide Festival Centre presents
The Illusionists 2.0
Venue: Her Majesty's Theatre
Dates: 27 December – 5 January 2014
Tickets: from $49
Bookings: bass.net.au | 131 246