Sunday, January 15, 2023



Circus of Illusion. 

Produced by Michael Boyd. Canberra Theatre. January 14-15 2023 Bookings 62752700

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Producer and illusionist Michael Boyd

Circus of Illusion returns to Canberra with all the glitz and glamour of a Las Vegas show. Trained at his grandfather’s knee producer and illusionist extraordinaire Michael Boyd has created two hours of magical, miystical and mesmerizing entertainment with a capital E. E for exciting. E for electrifying and E for engrossing. There are acts to astound like Sascha Williams’s increasingly perilous rola bola act. The heart skips a beat as Williams slips but amazingly maintains his balance . Tara Boom proves herself to be the mistress of the hula hoop, spinning them about the body in a gracefully gyrating display while concluding with the nerve jarring splits.

Idris Stanton as The Ringmaster and Clown

It is Michael Boyd who takes centre stage with eye-teasing feats of magic, escapology and levitation. We wince as a sword appears to pierce his Bell Boy Jeremy’s rotating body, accompanied by his helpers and showgirl dancers, Tegan and Annie. Eyes blink in amazement as , with a wave of a cape, one of the dancers vanishes into thin air only to be instantly replaced by Boyd. Performers disappear before our very eyes. Even simple magical tricks defy explanation.

In a show that is both slick and sophisticated each act leaves the audience enthralled and  filled with wonder. How does he do it.? What’s the secret? But then the best magician will never reveal his secrets and Boyd is among the best. Boyd and his performers keep us guessing to the very end. How is it that three random members of the audience can come up with the answers to three simple questions that will be revealed in a box locked high above the stage. There is no collusion. No time to write the answers down upon the paper and put them unseen into the locked box. Boyd is truly the master of his art. Or is there more to magic than meets the eye? “What??!!” exclaims the audience member behind me in disbelief as a glass disappears and a host of snowflakes float into the air from a single paper snowflake. In the inexplicable realm of magic Boyd teaches us that seeing is not always believing. But then if you believe in magic anything is possible.

Sascha Boom on the Rola Bola

Every circus needs a clown and Boyd has found the ideal funny man in Canberra circus performer and juggler Idris Stanton.  From warming up the audience to performing juggling acts and performing an hilarious rock star parody while a member of the front row audience holds the leafblower for effect  Stanbury’s idiosyncratic clowning and buffoonery lightens the mood and keeps the show moving.  Stanbury’s goofy clowning and groan joke comedy was perfectly pitched at an audience that delights in witnessing the fool’s antics.

When it comes to scene stealing, inviting seven year olds to witness and perform magic before a heartmelting audience does the trick. With his poker face and remarkable, unbelievable sleight of adult sized hands, Luke deserved his souvenir programme and bag of Michael Boyd tricks. It’s enough to make a child run away to join the circus. Alice, on the other hand, even after seeing a table levitate by itself and a red kerchief vanish and reappear still believed as she left with her reward that magic is not real.  This hardly deterred the master of mystery and the Lord of the Illusion.

Aerialist Tara Boom

Circus of Illusion is his show and he bestrides the stage like a colossus of his art. His two major support acts, the graceful aerialist Boom and the heart stopping rola bola balancer Williams appear too briefly to thrill and delight Boyd’s audience. The show moves slickly with moments of danger like Stanbury’s chain saw juggling, Williams’s agile recovery from a sudden slip and Boyd’s anxiety fuelling escape from handcuffs and chains to the rousing sound of Camina Burana. It is circus for everyone, young and old and the audience hooted and cheered, clapped and laughed and had a thoroughly entertaining night at the theatre. Who could ask for more?

At two hours including an interval the show is a tad too long, padded by showmanship posturing and fill-in routines by the two dancers. I would have preferred no interval but who can resist the opportunity to buy a light sabre and Boyd’s book of magical secrets from the merchandise store?

It’s another way to ensure a complete experience at Michael Boyd’s fantastical, magical Circus of Illusion