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July 7, 2015

Venue: Esplanade Theatre
Run: 3rd to 12th July 2015

It’s A Kind Of Magic

We don’t get too many big magic productions being staged here to be honest, much less one that is locally produced, and coming from a big magic fan, that is quite a sad thing.

There were “The Illusionists” who came to Marina Bay Sands back in 2012, and Joe Labero has done his show twice at the Jubilee Hall now, once last year and another time just earlier this year.

On the local front, other than J C Sum (who no longer performs with Magic Babe Ning), I cannot think of many other illusionists who have the gumption to stage a full-length magic show of such a magnitude as “VISION”, held at the Esplanade Theatre no less.

“VISION” is a $2 million dollar production first staged in 2011, and is currently being reprised by father-and-daughter duo Lawrence and Priscilla Khong once again.

Billed at the “largest illusion-theatre show in Asia”, it is apparent after the first few scenes that this is no mere exaggeration, what with the troupe of 16 dancers, the fantastic costumes, the glitzy sets, and the slick production values.

It seems no expenses were spared for this show, and astounding illusions such as the sudden appearance of a flashy sports car in a seemingly empty tent right in the middle of the stage, as well as the ever-impressive Metamorphosis illusion, prove that the duo still remain on top of their game after all these years.

Lawrence Khong displays solid sleight of hand chops as well, with a nifty ball manipulation routine right at the start of the show, as well as a crowd-pleasing Miser’s Dream coin bucket routine midway through.

Instead of being just a collection of disparate illusions like most big magic shows, “VISION” attempts to thread a theatrical element into the proceedings by portraying a strained relationship between father and daughter, and chronicles the duo’s journey toward reconciliation in spite of their many differences.

And it is this narrative that keeps things interesting throughout the show, and the viewer is keen to find out if things eventually work out well for the duo or not.

If there is one gripe about the show, it is that the opening scene featuring Lawrence Khong trying to tuck his little daughter into bed felt far too weak and draggy, with hardly any visual and emotional impact, when one would have expected the opening scene of a major illusion show to be far more captivating and impactful.

The shows’ narrative did take awhile to get going, and some of the lines felt much too contrived, but other than that I thought the rest of the show was fascinating and immensely enjoyable.

As I said, large illusion shows of this scales don’t come our way too often, and thus “VISION” is a show that thoroughly entertains, and feeds the sense of wonder in us all.

And even if magic isn’t exactly your thing, or if you know how it’s all done, beneath the smoke and mirrors lies a universal and heart-warming story of love, forgiveness and acceptance.

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