The Nöel Coward is a lovely old theatre in the heart of London’s West End. Built in 1903, older theatre-goers may remember it as The New Theatre (well, it was new once) and as The Albery. The historical theme is continued in the lavish brochure which accompanies this show and contains A Brief History of Magic. Indeed, some of the feats performed by the artistes have a venerable history – such as escaping from a straight-jacket, from chains or from a sealed, water-filled cabinet, in the manner of the Great Houdini, or sawing a lady in half (only it isn’t a lady in this instance).
But there is nothing old-fashioned about this show. It fizzes with energy and good humour. It powers along at a rate of knots, with fabulous sound and lighting, and with so much crammed in that you are surprised to find, at the end, that two and a half hours have gone by. The eight artistes come on one after the other, and each delights the audience in a different way. The range of talents is immense – from card tricks to daredevil stunts, from mind-reading to teleportation, from optical illusions to very real dangers, from lying on a bed of nails to being set on fire …
The list goes on. But the audience are not there just to sit and be astonished. They are very much involved in the show. The artistes strike up a great rapport with the audience, quite a few of whom are called upon to assist in the proceedings, but in a very nice way, and nobody is embarrassed. The patter is excellent, though risks are taken. Despite the famous warning by W.C. Fields about being upstaged by children, a 6 year-old boy is brought onto the stage, and it works – he’s very sweet, but he doesn’t upstage the magician!
One of the artistes won Britain’s Got Talent in 2016, but by golly, they’ve all got talent in spades (even the ones that don’t use playing cards). Impossible first came to London last year. If you missed it then, don’t miss it now.