Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (reviewed opening night 1 Jan)
What a gift to kick off 2024. Grand Illusionist Rick Thomas, winner of several prestigious entertainment and industry awards, graced our shores at State Theatre on New Year’s Day. He shares early on in the show that he was just here for a holiday and “wasn’t really planning to do this” but somehow found the grace to squeeze in a show in his busy schedule. Thomas makes no pretence at faking charm, he just tells it like it is. “I hate birds, I have a phobia of them” he reveals, after his heart-stopping dove tricks that sees several materialising in practically thin air. He also encourages audience participation but doesn’t suffer fools gladly. “Don’t change the choreography!” he snaps to one hapless audience member who couldn’t quite manoeuvre what Thomas wanted. As Aussies, we’re sort of used to that kind of roasting.
If you’ve never seen a live magician at play, you will definitely love this show, conceptualised ornately as Mansion of Dreams. Everything in the classic magician’s repertoire is there: cutting a woman in two, levitating her in the air, guessing the right card in a random deck of cards, unlocking a pair of steel rings, teleporting objects from one box to another, and so on. Thomas is quick to clarify he is more than just a magician; he is a Grand Illusionist, connecting the tricks to a biographical narrative of how he found his calling. He admits freely that as a child he bullied his little sister into believing she was actually invisible, and how it caused a fair bit of trauma. He fondly remembers his mother watching his amateur magical tricks with patient enthusiasm. He appeals to all parents in the audience to “listen to their kids” so that they too can nurture their child’s imagination.
The dream theme landed very well with a diverse crowd of families and kids. Asking a six-year old if “he likes girls” in front of a crowd might be a little questionable these days, but the atmosphere was one of cheeky (slightly adult) humour which the audience was happy to pass. Thomas knows how to read the room, and knows his material inside out to deliver a flawless, highly polished, entertaining show. A mother and daughter were still gushing when walking all the way back to Town Hall station. “Did you like that?” asked the mother, to which the daughter beamed and smiled.
Rick Thomas’ Mansion of Dreams is a wonderful example of manifesting the impossible, and making magic a part of reality.
Illusionist Rick Thomas played at State Theatre from 1 – 3 January. For more about his work, go to https://www.rickthomas.com/