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Not so long ago I went on my travels to London to see a show at the London O2 Indigo Arena. Having never been to that part of London before I was really excited to be seeing new things along the way.
Conversations with Penn & Teller – 30 Years of Magic and Bull S**T:
‘Conversations with Penn & Teller: 35 Years of Magic & BS! is an insightful evening of candid discussion, audience Q&A, video clips and some of Penn & Teller’s classic magic tricks performed live.’
Who are Penn and Teller?
Well for those who don’t know Penn and Teller they are two geniuses of the magic world. They are a double act which have going strong for 35 years. In my opinion I think they are unique magicians and I find it fascinating how they work.
Oddly I had never heard of Penn and Teller until they started a show called ‘Fool Us’ presented by Jonathan Ross here in the UK. Ever since I saw there first perform I was hooked; they were unlike any magic show I have ever seen in the past.
Here is a brief passage about Penn and Teller.
Penn Fraser Jillette makes up one half of this magical duo, born in Massachusetts aged 56 years old however you wouldn’t think so from his jokes on stage. One thing that stands out about Penn is his height at 6 foot and 6 inches! He kind of makes his partner look like a midget. He started in the magic world a young teenager starting with juggling tricks moving his from show to show until he met his now-partner Teller. Then in 1981 he teamed up as Penn & Teller and has been performing the world over, as well as having their very own nightly show in Las Vegas.
Teller aged 63 was born Raymond Joseph Teller but soon changed his name to just Teller. He was born in Pennsylvania, and began his working life as a teacher in New Jersey. Needless to say he lives a very different lifestyle now. If you have ever seen Teller perform you will notice he never says anything during shows, and lets Penn do all the talking. I think this gives his act a little edge among others in a similar field. In was in 1974 when Penn and Teller started to perform together along with a third member, but was in 1981 they began as a double act.
As you can guess from the title of the show ‘Conversations with Penn & Teller’ it wasn’t a magic show as such. It was a small mix of magic as well as being interviewed by a different person each night. The first night was Jonathan Ross, the second night (our night) was Stephen Fry and the third was Paul Daniels. The questions I’m guessing would have been pretty much the same on each night though.
To start with they opened the show with one of their famous card tricks, which I have seen them do a few times now however I still love it as much each and every time. It starts with Penn being somewhat sarcastic to the chosen participant, getting them to choose a card and asking them to lose it in the deck. After this, Penn tapes silver coins to Teller’s eyes with masking tape so that he can’t see, and Teller then attempts to locate the card blindfolded. Not only does he find it, but it somehow ends up stapling it to Penn’s hand with a knife. Of course it doesn’t really go through his hand but it looks very convincing even with fake blood!
After their card trick the pair then sits down with Stephen Fry and he began to ask them questions about their life within the magic industry. Having never been to a show like this before I found it very interesting and it managed to hold my full attention all the way through. The whole show lasted around two hours give or take with no breaks I might add. I could have carried on watching this how for another two hours I found it that fascinating.
Their stage wasn’t as extravagant as I was expecting being as their normal stage is set in Las Vegas. I was hoping for over-the-top lights and bright colours but it was simple black and red with just Penn and Teller in large text on the back drop. Still I’m guessing as this was more of a conversational show there was no need for any gimmicks.
One question in particular I was interested in was how Penn and Teller got together. It started as Penn went to watch a show with his friend and one of the shows featured Teller. Teller was doing his mind boggling trick (which he later performed) of eating around 50 pins followed by a length of string. He then regurgitates the string pulling it slowly from his mouth with all the pins attached. This does sound somewhat gross but believe me very out of the ordinary to watch.
Up until that point Penn was slightly bored of magic as he was seeing the same old stuff over and over again. So this got him excited where he meets Teller while he was then performing in a library basement. Teller also performs this trick in the middle of the show and to see it in real life rather than on TV or the internet was so much more mind blowing!
During the course of the night they spoke about their opinions of the likes of Uri Gellar, David Blaine and David Copperfield. Let just say the pair are not very keen on them! As we all know what they do are tricks but how they go about them is what puts Penn and Teller off. Of course I cannot state every single question as for one I can not remember all of what was asked, second this would be a stupidly long review!
I will however mention there other two tricks of the night; one was their cups and balls trick and the other and self-repairing material. Cups and balls must be one of my favourite acts they do as they strip it back my using see-through cups and using tin foil instead of balls. You can see there moves they even tell you what there doing during the trick but then at the end a large potato comes out of nowhere! Please do take a look and you can see just what I mean.
The last trick of the night was the self repairing fabric sheet where you see it get cut by Teller and also cut by an audience member. When the material is pulled out there are no cuts what so ever, it still remains a long piece of fabric genius to watch.
At the end of the show there was no encore but as we walked out the venue Penn and Teller where both standing out side awaiting the guests for meet and greet I found this a really lovely touch. We didn’t stay around to long as it was so cold the wind was just hitting you like knifes so off to the hotel we went. But what a fabulous night we had and would do it again if there were to come back to the UK, or even better to see them on their own stage in Las Vegas!
The Indigo is a small entertainment venue in the O2 arena which can hold up to 2400 people, in London formally known as the Millennium Dome. This isn’t the only entertainment in the O2 arena I was shocked of just how big it was when entering. There is also a large performing stage, Cineworld, Video lounge, image lounge (right now it hold famous guitars and photo’s) and an abundance amount of bars and restaurants. It was like a village under a tent, I really couldn’t get over the sheer size of the actual place.
The seating in the Indigo is on the cosy side as you are all pretty close together which for me I’m glad I had an end seat because there wasn’t much leg room at all. As I have metal pins in my legs it is really hard to sit with my knee bent for any longer than 20 minutes or so. If I do ever go back in future I will ask for a seat on the front row or an end aisle sit if they have any of course!
Within the venue there are also assessable toilets and bar like with most venue bars drinks where a little on the pricy side I might add. Getting in and out of the Indigo was nice and easy and wasn’t too crowded.
It didn't state if we could or couldn't take photographs but once we saw a few people take some photo's we got a few of our own.
I must admit I really enjoyed this show it was fun and very interesting I do however wish there was more tricks but nevertheless a great show. If they do tour again in the UK I would certainly recommend you going along to see them as they have a wonderful stage presence.
It cost us a total of £30.25 per ticket for the show on the 7th December and I personally think it was well worth its value, we both had a wonderful and interesting time. So thank you Penn and Teller!
Quote I have taken -
Derren Brown (a big fan said): 'Ingenious, laugh-out-loud, jaw-dropping power-houses. The finest in the world and damned to hell a thousand times over.'
This gets a huge five out of five stars from me.
Thanks for reading
The O2 opens at 9am and is open till late last admission is at 1am.
The O2 Peninsula Square London SE10 0DX
Please see web site or directions
Pictures of Conversations with Penn & Teller, IndigO2
Conversations with Penn & Teller, IndigO2
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