The Illusionists 1903 conjures wonders of magical past
AT the height of the live-magic era, seeing was believing.
At the turn of the 20th century, the magicians who performed the unbelievable feats were classed as kings.
Celebrities of their time, they were adored and people would watch with awe - to escape the realities of their changing world - as magic played out before their very eyes.
But fast forward to 2015 and the iPhone-wielding audience packed into QPAC's Concert Hall Theatre were naturally a little more sceptical that magic could be real.
But jaws still dropped and people still whispered to their friends in the crowd as The Illusionists 1903 took to the stage for its world premiere at the Brisbane arts hub on Sunday night.
No matter the time or the place, people are still intrigued by magic.
The third instalment of The Illusionists franchise, this one is a little different.
Paying homage to a time when daredevils like Houdini were the rock stars of their day, the show features seven diverse illusionists from across the globe who delve into mysteries of the past.
Each is styled in a different way; the performers take turns dazzling the crowd with their individual acts, accompanied in several places by the use of live 3D broadcasting, allowing those magician fingers to seem like they were coming right at you.
It gave a sense of transparency when coins were shuffling between playing cards and nails were tested for their strength.
The tricks were very much based on what was popular at the turn of the century including sawing a woman (and man) in half, bed of nails (nail), escaping a straight jacket and making a stunning woman with a flowing dress disappear.
In the spirit of the show's theme, the performers were decked out in clothes of the era and their language was refined and powerful.
There's the daredevil Jonathan Goodwin, who had me turning away when he came dangerously close to chopping an audience member's fingers off in one of his stunts.
I enjoyed his monologues the most. He provided a smattering of insight into the magicians before him who are now just names lost in time.
I would have like to have heard more about the magicians of the past, their tricks, their notoriety and perhaps even seen some vintage footage. But alas.
Then there's the showman Mark Kalin and the conjuress Jinger Leigh.
The eccentric Charlie Frye was a crowd favourite, his character always walking on stage, hunched, slightly dishevelled, but packed with talent. His specialty, while incredible, I did not consider as magic.
It was more I guess what you would call "physical magic" or mainly circus arts.
He juggled, slid rings back and forth and had the stylings of a clown. A very talented one at that.
The Immortal Rick Thomas was my favourite.
His imposing facade and big bushy moustache command attention on the stage.
Not to mention his cocky and sometimes cheeky personality.
Rick was the man who made the big tricks happen: a woman disappears, a dove appears in his palm. Those were the tricks that had the audience excited.
The maestro Armando Lucero was also impressive. He was the cards man, the master of sleight of hand.
He would go fast and then slow and even brought audience members up on stage to try and crack the code, but no one could. He was pretty incredible.
I didn't think much of the Clairvoyants Tommy Ten and Amelie Van Tass.
I guess mind reading isn't quite as impressive anymore as it was 100 years ago.
Unfortunately my love for magic meant I knew the secrets behind some of the tricks, but for the most part I was constantly saying "how" to myself and out loud.
How do they do it?
Like in the mid-1920s, technology has taken over nowadays and put a stop to believing, closing the curtain on magic.
But thanks to the cast of The Illusionists 1903, that wonder has pride of place on stage.
It's a fun show that will have you asking "how" for weeks to come.
The Illusionists 1903 runs for a limited season at QPAC through Sunday January 11.