Review: The Illusionists in Dubai

Suspend your sense of disbelief to enjoy this Dubai World Trade Centre spectacle

While to some they may appear hokey, and to others utterly confounding – there can be little argument that the murky fields of magic and illusion have always held a certain fascination, or at least a quiet curiosity, to the masses.

In the last 150 years, Joe Public has borne witness to magic’s full spectrum, from legends like Harry Houdini and David Copperfield, to lauded television showmen like David Blaine, Dynamo, and the eternally smug – but undisputedly talented – Derren Brown.

One of today’s most recent magical re-imaginations are The Illusionists, a seven-strong troupe that are in Dubai with their ‘Witness the Impossible’ tour, under the lofty, but nonetheless tantalising billing of the ‘Greatest Magic Show on Earth’.

Card tricks, conjuring, mind-reading and a gasp-inducing water escape – The Illusionists has it all in (an ace of) spades – there’s even a good old fashioned body sawing number for the traditionalists to enjoy.

While true magic aficionados may recognise many of the show’s tricks as fairly standard fare, what sets The Illusionists apart from other pretender acts is their impeccable, thoroughly entertaining execution. Well styled, without ever really straying into corny or hammy territory – the production flows with the feel of a Vegas show, helped largely by the fantastic efforts of its pseudo host, ‘The Trickster’, whose exuberant comedic pedigree gives The Illusionists a cohesion so often absent in similar acts.

And while much of the show could be perhaps surmised as ‘new dog, old tricks’, as opposed to offering something you’ve never seen before, it still remains the best recent example of its genre that we’ve seen in these parts.

At the end of the illusion-based Hollywood blockbuster The Prestige – incidentally a film that apparently served as the show’s inspiration – the main protagonist states: ‘The audience knows the truth: the world is simple. But if you could fool them, even for a second, then you can make them wonder... then you got to see something really special.’

So go on, go get fooled.

The Illusionists runs at Dubai World Trade Centre until Saturday September 7. Tickets from theillusionistsdubai.com

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