Review: Penn & Teller @ Hammersmith Apollo, 17/7/10

Yesterday was my second ever visit to the Hammersmith Apollo for a night of comedy, and my first where it also involved some magic – specifically from Penn & Teller. Fairly movingly, it was also again with someone who I thought months back would not be able to enjoy such a thing.

I’d be lying if I said I was a hardcore fan of P&T (though I never disliked them) since there was dwindling reason to think about them in their 15yr absence. They used to have a series on Channel 4 in the early to mid 90s and I think I liked it.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of the night as my memory of their style was a bit hazy, but they seemed to remind and surprise me in equal measure. While some of the comedy and magic could be described as 101, the way they presented it was definitely unique – which is undoubtedly why P&T have been going for so long.

At times, P&T would reveal how certain tricks were performed and in no way did this take away from the mystique; if anything there was more than just a revelatory purpose for doing so, which by the end was to show support for being sceptical about things (P&T are both atheists and have reservations about man-made global warming) – which, while I was hearing that made me smile;  for reasons readers of some of my older blog posts will know about.

When the show had finished, my friends and I were scratching our heads and trying to offer theories on how P&T pulled other things off, but we didn’t obsess over it as deep down we wanted to retain the mystique of secrets they didn’t share.

Though Penn was the regular, loud focal point, silent Teller would very often grab your attention in really flooring ways; his magic acts were also the things that elicited the most crowd reaction – such as producing (tons of) coins from thin air, cutting the shadow of a flower that affected the flower, pulling out a string of needles from his mouth and remaining under water for 12 minutes (or so it seems).
Audience participation also helped to liven things up, but I’m glad I was seated way at the back to avoid being chosen.

In the intermission, Penn  tweeted from backstage about being excited in playing at where some of his heroes did. How humble is that?

Given the cheers the pair received by the end of the night, I’m sure both will return to the UK after a not-so-long gap as we still love what they do.
There’s something classic and ahead of their time about them that I can’t seem to find in their contemporaries.

2.5 hours well spent.


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