Review: Penn & Teller, Eventim Apollo

Review: Penn & Teller, Eventim Apollo

At a time when misdirection has become a bit of buzzword in politics, legendary magicians Penn & Teller have finally brought their Covid-delayed tour to London, complete with their own take on magical misdirection. Or is it misdirection? You arrive at their mindblowing show not knowing how they do it and you leave still not knowing, but having had a great night out.

The duo – chatty Penn Jillette and silent Teller – have been doing their distinctive subversive twist on traditional illusions for around fifty years. While they were once punky and rebellious they are now a bit more establishment, they even have their own Vegas residency. Allthough Jillette tells the Hammersmith audience that the Apollo is his favourite venue, even more so than their own venue in Vegas. Or is this more direction?

The current show mixes new tricks with some classics that they've brought over before. It would spoil the, erm, magic to give too much away (even if I could), but needless to say there are escapes that update the way Houdini did it, there are animals involved but none are hurt one little bit, there are card tricks that the audience gets to take part in, and a mathematical wonder involving counting jelly beans that will simply amaze you. When your jaw it not on the floor you'll be laughing like a hyena.

in fact there is quite a lot of audience partication too, with members of the public invited up onstage to help out. It's pretty much a family show and at one point a child gets their moment in the limelight. Even if you've seen Jillette cut a rope and reassemble it before it is still a wondrous thing. There is sleight of hand and then there is miraculous sleight of hand the way Penn & Teller do things. 

These perfomers are so skilled at their art – and it clearly is an art – they could probably do it with their eyes closed. You may want to close your own eyes when Jillette starts waving a mallet above Teller's head.

There's a bit of background about the history of magic provided by Penn, who clearly loves the subject and has given it a lot of thought over the years. Don't think too hard about how it's all done. As he explains towards the end before his big finish where he nearly toasts his tongue, it's all just tricks. Just sit back and enjoy two masters of their craft at the very top of their game.

At Eventim Apollo until Sunday June 16. Buy tickets here.


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