Smoke and Mirrors (4 stars)

Vaudevillian talent show in the Spiegeltent

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Smoke and Mirrors

There are magic tricks in this cabaret show that might leave your brain short circuiting in an attempt to understand them. Even the next day. Just because they’re old school (the severed man in the box, pictured; the white doves conjured from up an illusionist’s sleeve), doesn’t make them any less impressive.

There’s an old-timey, vaudevillian tone to the show, made by producers of La Clique, and a sell-out hit at this year’s Sydney Festival. While it fails to fill the sadly missed shoes of La Clique; never quite nailing that subversive, original edge or humour that made it so special, Smoke and Mirrors does offer up some excellent Victorian spectacle and magic – presided over by Donnie Darko style giant bunnies.

Moustachioed, stripey-panted strongmen create human towers and pose gracefully in one-arm handstands; a tiny dancer is expertly flung about like a ragdoll in fishnets; a trapeze is dangled upon; and a tap-dancing crying man has a Bojangles breakdown. Bawdy music hall singalongs, and a wobbly back-story about the dark side of showbiz, perhaps push things too far towards adult panto, but for up-close, whites-of-the-eyes circus tricks, it’s old fashioned entertainment, in one of cabaret’s best possible venues.

The Famous Spiegeltent, 667 8940, until Aug 30, 10pm; and 28-30, 7pm, £20 (£15).

Smoke & Mirrors

  • 4 stars

Sydney Festival's phenomenal hit 2010, conceived in the same stiletto-heeled boudoir as 'La Clique', a troupe of carnival glitterati ignited by its wicked live band and powerful, charismatic superstar iOTA. A live concept album, a fantasy cabaret, 'Smoke & Mirrors' explodes with its dazzling array of quixotic characters…

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