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Unbelievable | Criterion Theatre

Unbelievable is a show created with master craftsmanship. Whilst advertised primarily as ‘Darren Brown’s Unbelievable’, the show is actually created by three powerhouse writers and directors (Derren Brown, Andy Nyman and Andrew O’Connor). Unbelievable is co-produced by The Mercury Theatre Colchester, having been workshopped and performed there earlier this year.

What I found particularly interesting about this show (after perusing the programme in the interval), is that the show was moulded around the cast when it was still in development. The actors were involved in the process, and the magic tricks were worked around their strengths and preferences accordingly, and this shows in the final product. Hannah Price is given a chance to shine with her musical abilities, Samuel Creasey is able to bring his quick wit and humour with a lot of audience interaction and so forth.

The love the cast have for the craft and their particular trick is evident, and it’s always refreshing to see the cast having fun whilst performing on stage. It’s a successful collaboration between the cast and the creators on all fronts. A stand out moment comes with the hilarious and catchy musical number performed by Simon Lipkin that would have perfectly slotted right into any good musical. As someone who particularly loves musicals, this was a rather unexpected but much-appreciated performance.

The cast are spectacular, and it’s hard to believe that they aren’t magicians by trade. They perform their tricks effortlessly and deliver incredible performances as magicians. A particular standout actor is Simon Lipkin, who is the greatest showman of Unbelievable. Limpkin absolutely shines and his performance oozes with charm and authority. He, and Samuel, both have a certain charm that immediately entices the audience, creating their own strong magician personas.

The band, made of cast members Laura Andersen Guimaraes, Alexander Bean, Izalni Batista Nascimento Junior and Hannah Price are wonderful, and their ability to improvise, play whilst performing tricks and play off the audience was fun to watch.

Audience participation is at the heart of the show, and whilst it’s a necessity to have this element to really sell the tricks, it does fill a lot of time, that could have been better spent elsewhere. Unbelievable, whilst occasionally falling into the trap of bringing out trick after trick, never giving the audience a moment to recover from the previous one, also finds solid ground in the introductions to the tricks.

By opting to take a couple of minutes to educate the audience, we’re given fun facts about when each trick was first performed, the idea or illusion behind it, and about magic on a whole. These moments surprisingly enhance the performance, allowing us to feel invested, yet without revealing any secrets.

The show would not be the same without the same without the stunning use of set, lighting and sound. Designed by Hayley Grindle, the use of live camera, photos, projections, props and set adds a sense of mystery that compliments the show, whilst also helping the audience see tricks clearer and learn so much. The set during the last segment needs a special mention. Creating a garden, the use of foil on wooden trees, creates a magical environment. The use of a tree stump as a stool, a beautifully designed moon light, a vintage looking cupboard, and dim lights, created the most visually pleasant moment. It was a fairy tale scene come to life, which fits in perfectly for a magic show.

The show’s pacing is occasionally off, with some of the tricks being squeezed in between larger ones. This does lead to a couple of tricks being overlooked on the whole, and with the quick transitions between magic tricks, it’s hard to recollect them all.

Unbelievable is a magic show, and whilst it excels on that front, I do wish there has been more a thread connecting the tricks performed, as it occasionally does feel like they have brought together a series of unrelated tricks, so it is more of a magic showcase, than a magic show. With Lipkin and Creasey being the only ones to really engage with the audience, sometimes we aren’t able to really connect with the tricks. However, none of this takes away from the actual quality of the magic tricks in themselves.

The magic within this performance will leave you dazzled and bewildered and provides an incredibly entertaining evening at the theatre. Unbelievable runs at the Criterion Theatre until April 2024. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


{AD | Gifted} Written by Oviya Thriumalai | Photography by Unbelievable


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