Review by Jason Wert
There are concerts, plays, and shows that you see, enjoy and maybe tell someone about later.
There are concerts, plays, and shows that you experience and take away with you to the point that you want to bring others back with you to have the same experience you did.
Reza: Edge of Illusion is an true experience. Perhaps the best experience in Branson at the moment.
The best way I could describe seeing Reza’s show is to imagine yourself in the middle of a music video for a song that’s the theme to an action movie starring a magician with a cool, sarcastic sense of humor with the presence of James Bond.
That’s about what it felt like to sit there and take in the Reza experience. The big illusions were big, loud and sensory juggernauts; the more intimate moments allowed his razor sharp, sarcastic wit to build a rapport with the audience in a way you almost felt like you were sitting in the living room with pizza and tasty adult beverages.
However, even with the rock n’ roll sensibility of the show and the obvious edge to the performance, it was still family friendly: the kids in the audience were riveted to the show and the humor and antics on stage were adult enough to keep the adults along for the ride.
It’s like he’s a human Pixar movie with better hair.
Now, you’re probably saying “Jason, more detail. You’re being incredibly vague!”
Yes, I am. Why? Because this show is so good, I don’t want to risk ruining any illusion from the show for you. I don’t want to dampen the fun.
But I will reveal one part of the show because it helps show that Reza is not putting plants or dupes or stooges in the audience that allow him to do some of his mentalist-area tricks. He asked for volunteers for a segment where he takes someone’s cell phone and types something into it, has the person whose phone he takes point out someone else in the crowd and then ask that second person for a television show.
Reza then asks the audience what the theme song is for that show…and then shows the cell phone taken from the first person whose web browser was opened to the theme song from the show.
In the show I saw for this review, I’m the one who volunteered his cell phone and picked a guy from the crowd that I’d never seen before in my life.
So at least for that act of “magic” I can say beyond any doubt that the people involved weren’t set up ahead of time. And that made me more amazed by other parts of the show where he performed acts of mentalism.
That aura around Reza carries through the entire show. There’s a line from the movie “Now You See Me” (which is about magicians) that has always stuck in my head. One of the characters says the first rule of magic is “to always be the smartest guy in the room.” Reza has that presence about him, but it’s more than just a feeling of intelligence.
Reza carries himself like the quiet guy in a college fraternity. You know, the one that isn’t always at the center of attention but when he says or does something you stop and take notice; and you get the feeling the guy is always thinking three steps ahead of you even if you’re planning what to get for dinner. The frat treasurer who not only knows how to get things done, somehow he’s already realized what you were going to do and had everything in place to take care of it before you realized you needed it, and you stand amazed at what he did.
And while Reza is the star of the show, I can’t write this review without giving a serious about of praise to the team behind him. I’ve been to hundreds of magic shows over my life, and this is by far the smoothest show I’ve seen anywhere in the world.
The crew of a magic show is as vital as the main performer, making the flow of the show smooth and making sure the illusions are spot-on perfect. If one of them drops the ball, it can shatter an entire illusion for an audience member who is paying attention.
I was paying attention. I was looking for them to slip up. I was intentionally ignoring a lot of the (outstanding) performances on the stage which could distract you to see if I could see through any trick.
I couldn’t catch them making a single mistake. Not one. It’s the first time when I’ve been watching for a crew member to do something shady that I couldn’t find one.
I’ve seen a lot of Branson shows through the years. I can think of only a few that I would put in the category of an experience…The Haygoods or Liverpool Legends were in that rarefied air. Reza’s show is not only in that rare air…it could possibly be floating above every other show, a position that the Haygoods had been in so long that the clouds were forming in the shape of Dominic Haygood’s hairstyle.
With the caveat that I have not had the invitation to review this year’s Haygoods show, I would have to say that at this moment Reza’s show is not only the best show in Branson, but it’s so good that if you take a vacation to Branson without seeing the show you’re not getting the full Branson experience.