‘It’s a matter of perception. The hands of time turn at the same speed for everyone. Yet a child waits what seems to be an eternity for summer, whilst an old man watches a year pass in the blinking of an eye.’
It’s 1984, and as France play Yugoslavia in the Euros, a man meets a woman in a Parisian café. He’s returning a bag that she lost on the Métro, but he doesn’t tell her he stole it…
Instead, he tells her the story of Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, watchmaker, inventor, and master magician of the nineteenth century. Together they set out to find a vanished theatre beneath a bank vault in the Boulevard des Italiens, to break into a museum in the Trocadero, to uncover the mystery of the Mechanical Turk, to witness the birth of the Kinetograph… and to delve ever deeper into the Art of Illusion.
Le Cercle des illusionnistes by Alexis Michalik premiered in Paris in 2014 and won several Molière Awards. The Art of Illusion, Waleed Akhtar’s English translation, opened at Hampstead Theatre, London, in December 2022, directed by Tom Jackson Greaves.
‘Ambitious, kaleidoscopic and arresting’
— The Times
‘Genuinely engrossing and hard to resist’
— Reviews Hub
‘A magical romp… inspires a childlike wonder for its subject, with plenty of laughs along the way’
— London Unattached
‘Old fashionedly charming… a show that pulls off several tricks of its own’
— Ham & High