A grand illusionist, an unfulfilling performance

17 August 2009

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Having paid almost $300 for a ticket to one of the most ‘anticipated shows in the world’, I forced myself to enjoy every single moment of an otherwise disappointing performance.

Last weekend, I saw David Copperfield live on stage at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena.

The tickets started from $160 – so I convinced myself (and others) that it was worth paying that extra bit more to sit closer to the stage so we weren’t forced to resort to watching the screen the entire night.

Copperfield started his show with a poor trick where he appeared with a motorcycle in an enormous white box, which was shown to the audience as completely empty prior to his appearance.

Copperfield isn’t known to just wander onto stage, but if the lack of applause from the 5,000-strong crowd is any indication, I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t impressed.

A few tricks later, Copperfield launched into his most elaborate trick, where he narrated the story of how he got in to the magic business.

It wasn’t so much that I minded this narrative, but more the lack of passion from the man who has probably repeated this story thousands of times.

Following the narrative and at random, Copperfield asked members of the audience to call out numbers.

These were supposedly the same lottery numbers his grandfather had played for years in a bid to buy himself his dream car – a vintage Chevrolet convertible.

The convertible soon materialised on stage and the numbers on its number plate coincided with that of the ‘lottery’ numbers shouted out from the crowd. 

The final trick involved the random selection of 13 people from the audience, who vanished off stage only to reappear in the crowd.

Copperfield’s accomplished theatrical and comedic skills were entertaining, along with the great illusions he performed.

But given his reputation as an internationally known entertainer – which is reiterated many times throughout the show in the self-promotion videos – a 60-minute performance was well below expectations.

While I am still trying to convince myself that it was worth the money to see this world-renowned illusionist in an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I can’t help but feel a little uneasy when I think that the man who has made the Statute of Liberty disappear resorted to card tricks in front of a huge crowd.

It almost seemed like, given his age and years of experience, his heart was no longer in his performance.

You go to a David Copperfield show to be wowed.  I wasn’t.

Erdem Koc is the editor of upstart.