Derren Brown: Infamous

Derren Brown - InfamousHow do you write about a show that the performer himself has requested be kept a secret?  The following few hundred words or so is my attempt at describing, without giving too much away, the truly baffling and jaw-dropping mind trickery that I witnessed at Derren Brown’s Dublin premiere of his latest show Infamous.

Directed by Andy Nyman, Infamous is a mesmerizing and fascinating mesh of mind control and psychological illusion with a bit of magic weaved in as well.  Candid stories of Brown growing up are also peppered throughout the show’s narrative arc which I thought added a nice personal touch to the performance.

Brown is a veteran in this genre of live entertainment and his reputation precedes him but watching him onscreen really cannot compare to, or prepare you for, seeing him live and watching the magic of what he does unfold before your very eyes.  Throughout the show, he does, predicts and achieves the seemingly impossible – from start to finish, he had the audience entranced and eating out of the palm of his hand.

The way in which he invites audience participation gives the show an unpredictable air and also quashes the possibility that anything is staged.  Even if you are a cynic when it comes to these sorts of things, I daresay you will find yourself getting increasingly bewildered as the show progresses.  I definitely agree that the less you know beforehand about what happens during the show, the better.

Derren Brown is indisputably a master at his craft; what takes place and unravels on stage will leave you impressed, utterly gobsmacked and questioning many things.  Infamous is an extremely slick, well crafted production and an experience you simply have to see for yourself to believe.


Infamous is at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin until this Saturday March 15th.  For tickets, click here.  He will then be performing at the Grand Opera House in Belfast (tickets here) before taking the show back to mainland UK.  All dates and venues can be found on his website.

The Illusionists: Witness The Impossible

The IllusionistsMagic is making a spectacular comeback thanks to the likes of the seven outstanding world class magicians that make up The Illusionists.  With a grand display of energetic dance, strobe lighting and pyrotechnics as well as support from a rocking live band, this is more than “just a magic show”.

The Trickster (Jeff Hobson) is the honorary host of the evening and he quickly forms a great rapport with the audience with his unique blend of magic and comedy.  His excellent aptitude at sleight of hand tricks along with his comically camp and cheeky antics with the crowd will both amuse and thoroughly entertain.

Dan Sperry, the Anti-Conjuror, appears intimidating and slightly sinister with his Marilyn Manson appearance but yet is also strangely alluring; he easily draws you in to his macabre world of impressive shock illusions – prepare to gasp and definitely cringe.  He leads you to believe he is a silent magician but his nail-biting game of Russian Roulette at the end proves he is quite the conversationalist.

The Inventor (Kevin James) is the embodiment of the art form as he seemingly magics things out of thin air and creates the impossible.  From physically putting together a person before our eyes to dismembering another, this unassuming but extremely skilled magician will leave you gobsmacked.

Philip Escoffey, The Mentalist, is a mind reader with swagger and a wry sense of humor which worked very well with his set.  I felt he had the greatest performance arc – initially coming across as not very convincing and rather facetious, he then proceeds to miraculously predict things that he couldn’t have possibly known.

The Gentleman (Mark Kalin) and The Enchantress (Jinger Leigh) are the archetypal magician and magician’s assistant duo and they use theatrics to give classic magic an added wow factor.  This brilliant duo are the consummate illusionists; their reinvented version of the infamous “sawing woman in half” and a literally gravity-defying trick will astound you.

Andrew Basso rounds up the ensemble as The Escapologist and as his name suggests, his skill is death-defying escapes.  This is the only time in the evening where the theater is devoid of sound and rife with tension; it was truly remarkable witnessing the escape unfold live before your eyes – I only wish he had another escape up his sleeve!

This sensational and spellbinding evening is complemented perfectly by Los Angeles band Z who kept the energy and excitement pumping from start to finish.  Additionally the large screen above that captures a close up view of what is happening on stage helps everyone be in on the action and is especially handy for the more intricate illusions.

The Illusionists is a visual spectacle that will impress, amaze and just blow your mind.  The seven magicians are absolute masters at their craft – prepare to be enthralled by an epic medley of jaw-dropping and extraordinary illusions.  You will witness the impossible.

The Whimsical Banana rates The Illusionists: 5/5 bananas!

The Illusionists will be at the majestic Civic Theatre until 2nd June.  This is an unmissable show so don’t miss out – get your tickets today!
Performance Times: Wed to Sat 7.30pm, Saturdays 2pm, Sundays 11am & 3pm, Tues 28 May, 6.30pm

Comedy Fest 2012 Review: Chris Cox in Fatal Distraction

As I made my way to my front row seat in the beautiful Rangatira at Q (my second home this past week!), I was feeling both nervous and excited.  Nervous because sitting in the front row at a comedy show is never a good thing and excited because I genuinely could not wait to experience what all the great reviews have been going on and on about.  I had missed out on Chris Cox’s first visit to our shores back in 2010 and so did not really know what to expect.

First week of the Comedy Festival was a busy one for me; I was attending shows pretty much every night of the week!  All I can say is I am so relieved and chuffed that I managed to catch Chris Cox on his last show here in Auckland because, even though I still have a few more shows to see, I am already quite certain he is (going to be) my favorite of the festival this year!  Don’t get me wrong, everyone else I’ve seen so far have all been really excellent but I really enjoyed Chris’ show simply because it was just something completely different and not at all what you’d expect during a comedy festival.  He is not your typical stand up comedian but his show is just as entertaining (if not more) and will leave you not only bloody impressed but gagging for more.

So who is Chris Cox then and what is his show all about?  I guess you can call him a magician although he’s not the kind who pulls rabbits out of hats.  That being said there are rabbits on stage!  He insists he is a mind reader who cannot read minds, that everything is about coincidence, using psychology and observing body language.  My opinion?  He has to be a wizard (I vote former Hogwarts student!) because there was some pretty skillful mind reading going on on that stage!  The first and most obvious conclusion many will come up with to explain how he managed to do what he did is to say the show is rigged, but the ferret-in-the-sweater blows that theory well out of the water.  It’s been a few days now and my mind is STILL whirring.  It’s…like…magic!

Miraculously replicating drawings and magical laser lipsticks aside, I think the magic is really Chris himself.  His natural charm, “devilish good looks” and ability to just tell a good story will have you hanging on to his every word and move from the word go.  His show involves a lot of audience participation but the way he interacts with the crowd makes you feel just so comfortable – I can honestly say this was the first time I felt totally at ease being sat in the front row of a comedy gig.

It’s really one of those shows that you have to “see to believe” so all I will say is this: if Chris Cox is in your town, do yourself a favor and get a ticket – you will not regret it!  Wellington – he has 3 more shows at the Whitireia Performance Centre, so make sure you don’t miss out – get your tickets now (HERE) and prepare to have your mind fully blown…and read 😉  Your jaw WILL drop and by the end of the show you will leave absolutely flabbergasted.

The Whimsical Banana rates Fatal Distraction: 5/5 magical bananas!

Chris, thank you for the incredible experience – what an AMAZING and entertaining show, one I will not soon forget!  My only complaint is it should have been two hours long!  It was such an absolute pleasure meeting you after too 🙂  I hope you return next year, and this time I’ll happily sit in the front row wearing my I ❤ Cox badge with pride!  Hope you had a fantastic time back in New Zealand, even though you were ill!


To get more Cox ( 😛 ) check out his website

P.S. – Shout out and big thank you to the teams at the Comedy Festival and Q Theatre – you all rock!

Review: Flying Fish

To mark the end of our Foodie Adventure in Sydney, Reena and I decided to splurge and spoil ourselves by having our last meal together at the infamous Flying Fish restaurant, owned by “seafood king”, Peter Kuruvita.

Situated right by the pier at Jones Bay Wharf, it is pretty secluded and quite a ways away from anything else.  I love seafood and so ever since I learned of this restaurant I have been waiting for this day to come!  It was almost a no-go too, since it was completely out of the way from everywhere else we had already decided on going to; lucky we decided to make that special trip out in the end.

So after a pretty long walk from the tram stop, which included walking through pitch black darkness along a mostly deserted pier (the restaurant was right at the end) – we finally made it.  I remember at one point I was almost half expecting that we would have to find some secret passageway in order to get there, ala Platform 9 3/4 (sorry for the Harry reference, I couldn’t resist!).

First impression: the restaurant looks absolutely stunning.  Right by the main entrance is a full bar with a little deck area with comfy seating overlooking the water.  It was pretty dark so unfortunately there wasn’t much of a view to behold, but I can imagine how beautiful it would be during the daytime.  On a hot summer’s day, sat in one of those comfy chairs enjoying a cold cocktail…absolute heaven.  Stepping into the actual restaurant, the first thing I noticed which was a bit of a surprise to me, was that the kitchen was just, well, there.  Now we’ve all seen restaurants with kitchens that are “in the open”, that is in the same place as the dining area but separated by the counter (think Wagamama – well the one here, anyway), but this one was pretty much like an open-plan kitchen, like the sort you would see in some city apartments  – except way fancier, bigger and better equipped, of course!!  To the right there was what looked like a private dining area within this amazing wine cellar – wine bottles were perched on the walls from floor to ceiling.

We were taken into the dining area which was in the adjoining room on the left (there was also seating upstairs).  The dining area was very classy, what you would expect from a fine dining restaurant.  Floor to ceiling windows meant direct views out into the ocean – I can only imagine how incredibly stunning it must be during the day.  Shortly after sitting down at our table I looked around to take in the lovely ambiance.  Then I looked up – and gasped.  The upstairs dining area actually overlooks down to the downstairs dining area (where we were) and so basically both levels shared one very high ceiling (if that makes sense).  Hanging down from this ceiling were a whole bunch of pretty fairy lights – how magical and gorgeous!  Almost like looking into the actual sky on a starry night – and I’m sure that is the intention.  Definitely a very romantic setting, I’m sure the place is packed on Valentine’s!

I did take some photos but obviously they do not do the restaurant any justice.  The website provides a virtual tour of the place though so go check it out!

Everything on the menu sounded so delicious.  Prices are pretty steep but is to be expected considering the caliber of the restaurant and that it was seafood.  I think they did have one or two non-seafood dishes, although who would order steak at a seafood restaurant is beyond me…  The couple next to me, the guy was eating like this MASSIVE lobster – it looked really good.  In the end I decided on the prawn ravioli with poached scampi, shaved abalone, zucchini flower and tomato and coriander vinaigrette for my entree, and pan fried John Dory with king prawn, young summer vegetables, yuzu and seaweed butter for the main.

The ravioli was really good although I think what I enjoyed the most was actually that vinaigrette.  So simple but yet the flavor had so much depth and it was very refreshing too, thanks to the coriander – love coriander!  On the flipside I didn’t care for the abalone at all.  As for the main, WOW.  I’ve never had John Dory before so I was really excited at finally being able to try it after hearing about it all the time on cooking shows.  The fish is a very flat fish and really quite ugly (have a look at his ugly mug here) but boy did it taste delicious!  The fish was cooked perfectly and seasoned so well; skin was crispy and the flesh tender but still with some bite.  Now the fish was definitely the star of the dish but let me tell you, those vegetables sure gave Mr. Dory a run for his money!  I have this weird thing where I only like my vegetables soft – so really, I only eat/enjoy my veges steamed.  The veges that were on this plate were absolutely divine, they were so full of flavor and just melted in your mouth!  And that yuzu and seaweed butter was one of the best things I have ever tasted – just brought the whole dish together.

Following the success of the dessert platter at the Red Lantern, we decided to do the same here and go for the dessert tasting plate.  What a scrumptious ending to a fantastic meal it was – passionfruit souffle with burnt orange ice cream, toasted coconut marshmallow and pineapple, fig carpaccio with creme fraiche sorbet and carrot financier, and lime cheesecake, almond strusel, lime curd, guava sorbet and compressed kiwifruit.  My favorites were the toasted coconut marshmallow (they were like fluffy coconut-ty pillows!) and that guava sorbet – so refreshing.

Here are some photos, again please excuse the poor camera quality!  Additionally because I was trying to be discreet, most of the pictures turned out a wee bit out of focus too, unfortunately.

Overall, an excellent (fine) dining experience.  If I can ever afford to eat there again, I will go there for lunch so I can enjoy the views.  I must mention that the waitress who looked after us was top notch; very friendly, attentive and knew the menu pretty much like the back of her hand – she got a really good tip from us.

One last thing I simply HAVE to mention – as if everything about the place wasn’t already completely amazing, wait ’til you hear about the toilets!  They are magical.  I kid you not!  When you first step in, you will notice that the cubicles are see through.  The whole cubicle is just one giant translucent glass box.  So you start to panic for a moment.  Then you figure, well no one else is in here right now, I’ll just hop in, quickly do my thing and hope that I will be done before anyone walks in.  So you get in and here’s the craziest-but-most-amazing thing – the second you shut the door and lock it – WHOOSH!! – the whole glass box gets all cloudy and is no longer see through!  What is this black magic?!?!  But how cool is that!

Hands down.  Best.  Toilet.  Ever.  (and I’ve been to a lot – curse you, weak bladder!)

So yeah to sum up, if you love seafood, if you want to treat yourself and that special someone, or if there is a special occasion of some sort – consider making a night of it at Flying Fish.  When it comes to food this is my motto: life is too short and pretty crappy most of the time, so every once in awhile treat yourself to the good stuff!

Whimsical Banana rates Flying Fish: 5/5 Bananas!