Review: ‘The Illusionists’

It’s been said (I honestly don’t know by whom, but I believe it) that there is no more appreciative audience on earth than the ones being entertained by good magicians. Having attended a late morning performance of three scheduled performances of The Illusionists Turn of The Century review on Saturday, November 14, at the Durham Performing Arts Center, in Durham, NC, I bear witness to this.

They’ve been doing these sorts of shows for over a hundred years. It’s the same kind of show Harry Houdini and his wife, Bess used to do around the turn of the 19th century. Only now, in the 21st century, the show has multiple performers, a lot of 21st century lighting techniques and a rock n’ roll band. None of which altered, in the slightest, the crazy, titillating allure of a good illusionist, and one right after the other, these Illusionists delivered.

Though not specifically billed as such, they were well aware that this morning matinee had a family audience. This didn’t stop the Illusionist known as The Anti-Conjuror (Dan Sperry) during the first segment of his overall performance. He had an audience member ascertain the presence of double-edged razor blades in an apple, ‘ate’ those blades and then drew them out of his mouth, attached to a string. The Anti-Conjuror has adopted a pretty powerful Goth persona for this act. Thin, with long, stringy black hair that invariably found its way in front of his dark eyes. Piercings, tattoos, and a black outfit that showed off a few muscles. He would return to the stage, later in the show, to do a magic routine with doves that was remarkably entertaining, full of those unavoidable smiles on the faces of people, young and old, saying “How’d he do that??!!”