Traced as far back as medieval Europe, science and sorcery merged to produce a radically new form of entertainment. Over time, magic evolved from simple parlour games and sleight of hand into a mind – blowing spectacle that continues to confound and mystify global audiences to this very day.
Motion picture hits like The Prestige (2006) or Now You See Me (2013) and television specials from the likes of local star, Constantino, highlight both the general public's intense fascination and fervent craving for bigger and better tricks.
Taken to the next level, it makes sense to see magic fused with another staple of mainstream interest. Now touring Australia, The Illusionists 2.0 combines the craft and the best in comic book super hero theming. Billed as the next generation of magic, this team of real-life Avengers are currently on the Melbourne leg of a critically acclaimed international tour.
Playing in cities around the globe including Auckland, Istanbul and Dubai, this select group of artists are truly the magnificent seven. With something to appeal to everyone, their blockbuster acts range from death – defying feats of danger, mental and optical illusion, shadow hand puppetry and human ventriloquism.
At two hours in length, this is the perfect family entertainment for children and grown-ups of all ages. There are so many moments that defy explanation, it pays to sit back and enjoy the fun instead of keeping count. The Illusionists 2.0 is Las Vegas spectacle at its finest.
Billed as The Master Magician, Luis de Matos helms the show.
Handsome, suave and sophisticated, he is the ideal emcee. One early highlight from his act includes making an empty aquarium fill with goldfish before our very eyes. There is also an ingenious and fast – paced segment of audience participation that I will not reveal here. Having said that, I still can't figure out how he did it. Remaining tickets are limited, but this trick alone is worth the price of admission.
Hyun Joon Kim from Korea is The Manipulator.
Regarded as one of the most masterful sleight of hand artists in the world, his skill is clear from the outset. With many awards and titles to his name including first place at the 2010 Blackpool Magic Convention, Kim has a stage presence that is stylish, elegant and effortless.
English-born James More is The Deceptionist.
His career was kick-started on Britain's Got Talent, and from there, he has appeared in front of sellout crowds at London's O2 Arena. More is easily the Harry Houdini of the group. Shackling himself in the face of real danger, his escapes time and again from various scenarios will leave one speechless.
Ben Blaque is The Weapons Master.
A skilled crossbow expert from Springfield, Missouri in the United States, Blaque got his big break on America's Got Talent. His thrilling stunts also leave very little room for error. Particularly as several tricks involve putting either himself or his alluring female assistant in the line of fire.
Two Australians also feature in this impressive line – up.
Sam Powers is The Enigma. He has appeared in the finale of Australia's Got Talent, as well as toured in sixteen countries around the world. Defying the impossible, in one of his tricks he not only escapes from a locked trunk in seconds, Powers switches places with his glamorous female partner in an instant.
Raymond Crowe is The Unusualist.
A trained mime and shadow puppet extraordinaire, he too appeared in the Grand Final of Australia's Got Talent. The bumbling uncle of the group (as my guest for the evening aptly put it), his act involved a segment of voice projection that left viewers in stitches.
Crowe also fronted a closing segment that was deceptively simple yet tremendously moving. Creating a shadow puppet sequence using only his hands, he paid loving tribute to human nature with a backing track to Louis Armstrong's 'What a Wonderful World''. It was a touching and memorable moment.
Which leaves only The Hypnotist.
Michael C. Anthony is an acclaimed master in the art of mind control. More than forty willing volunteers scampered to the stage to experience his act first hand. He also had them believe the most ridiculous things, from thinking they had been pinched on the bottom to even entering a dance contest.
However, I have one piece of advice.
His process of putting his subjects under hypnosis takes place during the twenty-minute interval. Don't leave the auditorium for a second, whether to buy a drink from the bar or to go outside to stretch your legs. Stay put in your seats. For people familiar with the YouTube phenomenon known as ASMR or Auto Sensory Meridian Response, it is possible you will feel the most extraordinary full body tingles as Anthony works his magic onstage.
The Illusionists 2.0 features seven new artists who will make you question everything you think you know about magic. With several segments captured live in 3D, this gives the show an extra dimension to question what one is seeing on stage and to wonder if it is really happening.
Playing for a strictly limited season, not only is this event theatre, The Illusionists 2.0 also features four back up dancers and a sound and light show that will help kick start 2015 with the biggest bang for your buck.
Don’t miss world – class family entertainment at its best.