We go to the theatre to laugh, to cry and be amazed. The first two we seem to be experience often enough (and not just when we go to the box office and find out what the price of tickets are); but real astonishment is by and large in short supply (though again, you might get a frisson on it when you find out the ticket prices for Elf at the Dominion).
But to right that West End wrong, Impossible achieves the well-near impossible and does so impossibly well, which is to regularly fuse, if not blow, our brains with amazement. Here's a resolutely old-fashioned assembly of magic and illusion acts, but performed by a collection of seven young exponents of the form, that give it a fresh and engaging spin each time.
Of course lithesome female assistants are sawn in half, have arrows shot at them, and actually seem to levitate; but there are some new twists to make it all more contemporary and challenging. A man lies not on a bed of nails but a single nail only (which therefore absorbs his entire body weight instead of distributing it) before having a brick block smashed on his stomach; he also does the escaping a straitjacket act while suspended, elevated above the stage, upside down, but this time his trousers are set on fire and he has to escape before the flames consume him.
Then there's the full-size sports car that's made, David Copperfield-like, to entirely disappear; but here they also make a life-size helicopter actually appear from nowhere (Miss Saigon, eat your heart out). But it's actually the simpler things that impress more — an old-fashioned card trick in which the entire audience is given a selection of cards to each tear in half, reshuffle, swap and throw away, before reconstituting two halves from the same picture card for themselves. It is weird and absolutely wonderful.
So is Chris Cox's eerily uncanny ability to read people's minds, randomised throughout the audience in the way that Derren Brown does by having an object thrown around the stalls to find them so we know that they're not stooges. He also knows exactly what (legal) acts people would want him to perform on stage, and proves it by having filmed himself conducting them in advance! This has to be seen to be (dis)believed.
Variety, they always say, is the spice of life; and now it adds spice to the West End. This show is only here for a limited 5-week run, but it could become a regular visitor to fill any theatre that's short of something to put on for a bit.
"Not only is all this a bit hammy, the concept struggles to unify an evening that, in truth, is a bit of a mixed bag."
Clare Allfree for The Telegraph
"It’s a highly entertaining show, but also somewhat retro in its suggestion that the chief function of women is to be bundled into cabinets and bisected, made to disappear or invisibly transported from one side of the stage to the other."
Michael Billington for The Guardian
"This magic show is so mind-blowingly spectacular it will knock your socks off. Sometimes. Elsewhere it may have you impatient for the next Vegas-style thrill."
Bruce Dessau for The Evening Standard