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Penn & Teller play London

penn & teller
penn & teller Image credit: http://www.stereoboard.com

On Friday evening, somebody, somewhere, was opening an envelope. Its contents revealed how a magic trick had been done earlier on that evening.

The woman was randomly chosen from the Hammersmith audience which had gathered to watch Penn & Teller’s first ever UK tour. She was one of the hundreds obeying the magicians’ request to hold their cell –phone up in the air bidding to participate in the first of many illusions the evening would bring. The mobile device filmed the trick, although the footage alongside with the instructions remains a mystery to the London gathering, apart from the chosen one.

Penn Jillette (he talks) and Raymond Teller (he doesan’t) relationship was formed at college where the former became fascinated with a fellow student performing a mind-boggling stunt. The teenage Teller was showing off by swallowing a handful of pins before regurgitating them streaming from his oral cavity tied to a thin line of cotton. The trick is repeated in this, their first UK tour. It’s a familiar act, although Pen reveals today its one which brings the most public of interest with a range of guesses...Teller has a pocket pouch in his mouth doesn’t he? The pins are candy flavour, right?

The pair has been amazing others since the late seventies, believing their longevity relies on their lack of relationship off stage. However, tonight is all about the bonding and as the two hour show opens with a Voodoo-esque set rounded off by draping red curtains those who have purchased the tickets which quickly disappeared off outlet websites are in for magical treats #SeeWhatWeDidThere?

This UK tour sees a break in the current Las Vegas residence which has been described as one of the best shows on the strip, picking up rave reviews and explaining why the pair are now proud owners of a Hollywood star on the walk of fame. If a flight to Nevada is currently off financial limits the price of a ticket for one of these London dates would at least bring you a small piece of a holiday experience as we witness a unique airport security system which can miraculously identify or ignore metal objects whenever it wants.

Appealing to all ages, despite their adult persona this ‘family’ show also has a space for younger fans; witness the trick with a child cutting a piece of polyester. Although Penn can’t resist his evil style remaining hidden for a few minutes as he cheekily asks the youngster to run around the stage holding a pair of sharp scissors. (Relax, they remain stationary!)

They say never work with animals and children, ignoring both rules Penn & Teller use goldfish for another illusion later on in the evening. This trick, alongside a few more, maybe familiar with those who have watched some of their past television appearances, but it doesn’t matter – seeing an trick being performed in front of your eyes carries a whole new perspective.

Penn & Teller attempt to revive old, dare we say dated, tricks on this current tour. There’s sawing a lady in half, the aforementioned swallowing of sharp objects, fire eating – unfortunately this is where the excitement dips a little. You may not be able to teach old dogs new tricks, but on the same level it’s hard to astound current audiences with vintage conjury.

The magicians’ shows can be traced back to ‘The Asparagus Valley Cultural Society’ which saw Penn & Teller performed with a third body, Wier Chrisimer. The trio became two in 1981 and tonight we witness one of their oldest tricks involving a cigarette and a fine co-ordinated hand, a recent trick sees Teller showing off his escapology skills and a brand new spell which involves a pack of playing cards.

Penn & Teller have a record of annoying fellow magicians, tonight they take aim at so-called body language experts who feed off people’s foolish intentions that their physical actions reveal more about them when it only shows how gullible they can be. They also target Mediums who pretend to contact those who have passed away revealing their ‘physic’ powers are as dead as their fake connections.

One thing which is very much alive is how much energy the entertainers put into their shows and their humours personalities. The farmyard trick with a ‘so-called’ audience member turns out to be something completely different, Penn remembering a series of nails in a nail-gun so he won’t spike a dagger through his hand is exhaustively exhilarating to watch and the act involving joke books randomly dished out through the audience leads to an unforgettable punchline.

For 99% of those who caught the show this evening they came away perplexed yet fully satisfied, although for one fortunate punter her mobile phone may just provide the first steps to signing up to the magic circle.