Just when I thought we might be about to see a genuinely spectacular reveal, the show ended.
Opening with a choreographed display by two, admittedly talented martial artists, the show takes its first dubious turn when Jason Steele and Joanne take to the stage. Steele himself makes for an impressive enough presence; he’s tall, handsome and wearing a fabulous robe. His assistant Joanne however is dressed in what I can only assume they found by Googling “Chinese Wig” and setting the results to ‘Price Ascending” before pairing the results with a silk bathrobe. In today’s climate of cultural sensitivity, it’s an outfit that would get her banned from every student union costume party in the country. I guess they spent the entire budget on weaponry and the fantastic Chinese Dragon that appears early in the show.
We are then subjected to a series of illusions that draw polite applause except for the routines featuring swords or sharp sticks where the audience is genuinely concerned that Steele might actually hurt someone. Not due to the inherent danger of the trick – it’s just that you can imagine it going wrong pretty easily.
A card throwing bit simply shows that, for tonight at least, Steele isn’t actually very good at throwing cards and he has to send the one audience volunteer of the show back to his seat with polite, disappointed applause.
One major illusion draws laughs when the foot of the hidden assistant is clearly spotted as he climbs into place. It’s not the first time an illusion is spoiled by bad stagecraft but it’s the most blatant.
I don’t doubt that Steele is an accomplished stage magician but this show is a terrible vehicle for his skills. Too much emphasis on the theme means that the illusions take a back seat to the muddled fight scenes and overbearing soundtrack. The finale feels in need of a better trick and just when I thought we might be about to see a genuinely spectacular reveal, the show ended. I did like the dragon though.