Alex Lodge – Vision
The Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke

March 5th 2009

Reviewed by Richard Young

Alex Lodge took a massive risk on Thursday night. He hired a 400 seat theatre in the centre of Basingstoke and put his name as the headliner above the door. Alex has spent the last few months promoting the show locally in newspapers and local schools in the hope that people would turn up. It was great to see the venue packed and a mainly “lay” enthusiastic audience ready for an evening of magic and illusion, which as we all know is sadly a rare thing in theatres across the UK nowadays. Alex was accompanied by his assistant Haylee and five dancing girls. He was supported by Max Somerset of Max Magic and The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

The show opened with a well choreographed dance sequence and great lighting as Alex made his appearance in the smoke chamber, this was followed by the Crystal Casket illusion appearance of Haylee. It was a good opening that had clearly been well rehearsed.

Alex then went into the act he has presented many times at magic competitions, his card manipulations were excellent and the audience around me were amazed at the distance he could flick cards. He then presented a Sean Bogunia dancing hanky routine which he had a few technical problems with. He recovered with a modernised dancing cane routine and then went into an excellent linking rings routine involving several of the youngsters who were seated in the front row. This was well received by the audience.

Max Somerset was on next with a great “Watch Smashing” routine, the scripting was fantastic and Max’s large vocabulary added to the humour. Max was unaware that the table he was using looked like it was about to collapse from the audiences perspective, the right leg was bending as he moved it to the centre of the stage. Everyone in the audience looked on in horror, not just because he began smashing envelopes containing watches with a hammer, but because every hit with the hammer moved the leg a little bit more towards collapsing. A further nightmare happened when the spectator rolled the dice that was being used to select the bags, off the table. It went through a hole at the front of the stage and it could not be retrieved. Max recovered brilliantly, and he should consider using a stooge from now on, and make this happen every night as it was absolutely hilarious.

Alex returned with a Shadow Box appearance of one of his assistants, and then went into a poorly built unauthorised version of Andre Kole’s “Heads Off” illusion. This sequence finished with a European Asrah levitation vanish of the assistant and reappearance at the back of the room. Unfortunately the levitation was not convincing from my point of view.

The second half began with the dancers returning, and Alex then presented his Dove Act, the cage vanish receiving an audible gasp from the youngsters around me which was great to hear. Haylee then entered and a decent presentation of the Jim Steinmeyer Modern Art illusion followed.

The mood was then changed as a Razor Blade swallowing routine was performed. Although Alex’s facial expressions were good, I feel the trick didn’t fit in with the rest of the show and was somewhat lost on the audience.

A prediction which had been visible throughout the show was then revealed to be accurate with a spectator's dream holiday. A few spelling mistakes did unfortunately take away from the effect, but only slightly.

Alex then introduced the Origami illusion, again unfortunately an unauthorised version which was not well built. This was a real shame as I personally felt that this was the best illusion of the night with regard to the presentation. The music was good, the dancers added to the effect as did their oriental costumes.

The show finished with a snow dream illusion sequence. The scripting could have been better, and there was a slight fumble, however it looked great visually and was a nice ending that prompted a standing ovation from some of the audience.

As stated at the beginning of this review what Alex did on Thursday night was very brave and I can take nothing away from him for trying to put on the biggest and best show possible. What really let Alex down was the quality of his props. Several of the illusions presented were unauthorised pirated versions that lacked the deceptiveness or an original prop from a licensed builder.

There were some really good moments; however there were parts of the show which did not look like they had been as well rehearsed as they should have been for such a big night. I hope Alex was filming the show as he will learn so much for watching it back. Overall my feelings were that at times this show was quantity over quality with regard to the illusions and I personally look forward to seeing his show again in a few years.

©  Richard Young, March 2009