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Impossible at New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham - Review

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by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
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Breath-taking show will leave you mesmerised
The impossible becomes possible on the New Alex stage as six slick performers present illusion, trickery, sleight of hand and dare devil feats in an enthralling two and a half hour show.

Impossible, New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham

Loosely based around the theme of the history of magic, the audience is taken on a journey from the early days of alchemy to the latest hip hop street illusions. On the way we visit carnival hucksters, circus strongmen, Victorian spiritualism and the great escapes of Houdini.

To put it simply, Impossible is a superior magic variety show with loads of audience participation – so be careful where you book to sit if you're shy about being hauled on stage.

Early on, Michael from Dudley thought he'd got the better of pickpocket Lee Thompson by not wearing a watch for him to steal and zipping up his pockets but sneaky Lee still relieved him of his wallet, chocolate bar, handkerchief and tissue.

Impossible, Ben Hart, New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham
Baffling: Ben Hart

That followed an opening illusion by Ben Hart which was simple... but simply baffling. Three rings donated by audience members were magically linked, then separated as we watched close-up on a big screen.

This sleight of hand contrasted with the spectacular offerings of dare devil Jonathan Goodwin who at curtain call got the biggest cheer from the all-age audience (this was, after all, half term week).

Impossible, Jonathan Goodwin, New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham
Sharpshooter: Jonathan Goodwin

Jonathan bent a spanner with his teeth, fired a crossbow at objects held by an assistant and – this was the biggie – escaped from a straitjacket while on fire. We've seen this sort of stunt on TV but to see a man engulfed in flames struggling to break free just a few feet in front of you is a real experience!

Impossible, Jonathan Goodwin, New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham
Light my fire: Jonathan Goodwin

Self-confessed Sue Perkins lookalike Chris Cox also got heads scratching as we struggled to work out how he could read minds. His routine with a young guy named Lucien, plucked from the audience, was so incredible I was tempted to suspect a plant. Unseen behind a curtain, Lucien randomly chose clothing items – with Chris making identical choices in full view of the audience.

In the second half he performed equally puzzling mind reading tricks with the audience, although I think he rushed through at such a pace much of what was happening was under-appreciated. Chris may look and act like a children's TV presenter but he's hugely talented.

Impossible, Chris Cox, New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham
Puzzling: Chris Cox

Chris made his second half entrance courtesy of illusionist Josephine Lee who made him magically appear on stage after she had performed her own disappearing/ appearing routine in a magic wheel. I've seen David Copperfield do a similar trick but I've still got idea how it's done.

Concluding the show was Hip Hop street musician Magical Bones (real name Richard Essien) who combines breakdancing with close-up magic. His trick with a £20 note and a Crunchie bar reminds me of the magic of Dynamo and Troy but his party piece of revealing playing cards to coincide with the lyrics of a fast-moving audio mixtape really is something special. And he even throws in a dance to finish.

Impossible is at Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre until February 20, 2016.

The remaining UK dates are:

Feb 23 – Feb 27: Sunderland Empire;
Mar 8 – Mar 12: Regent Theatre, Stoke-On-Trent;
Mar 15 – Mar 19: Edinburgh Playhouse;
Mar 22 – Mar 26: Palace Theatre, Manchester.

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Why? Mind blowing, head scratching, totally baffling magic show
When: At the New Alex till February 20, 2016; touring till March 26, 2016
Phone: 0844 871 3011
Where: New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, then touring
Cost: From £16.90 plus fees.
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