Simon Painter and Tim Lawson first staged their spectacular, multi-talent show at Sydney Opera House in 2012, and since then have created unique circus and magic themed productions that have thrilled audiences around the world. Their latest show, The Illusionists: Direct From Broadway features a line-up of extraordinary performers, each at the pinnacle of their specialised craft. Jeff Hobson (The Trickster) is as hilarious as he is stupefying; Jonathan Goodwin (The Daredevil) is a death and logic defying escape artist; Kevin James (The Inventor) uses his genius to devise new, utterly confounding tricks; An Ha Lim (The Manipulator) seemingly produces cards out of thin air; Chris Cox (The Mentalist) “reads minds” so convincingly it’s freaky; Maddox Dixon (The Showman) is as charismatic as he is clever; and finally, the only female on the team, Robyn Sharpe (The Warrior) a breathtakingly fearless sharp-shooter with a cross-bow and nerves of steel.
Sharpe is an ex-gymnast/cheerleader/dancer who first joined The Illusionists in 2015 as an assistant in a magic act. Eager to have her own act, she took up the cross-bow.
“I like the idea of magic that sort of walks the line between illusion and reality, and that’s what the cross-bow is. What you see on stage is actually happening, I am actually shooting the cross bow at my assistant and it is really dangerous”, says Sharpe.
Born in Brisbane, Sharpe now lives in Los Angeles where she can freely practise her act (weapons laws in Australia prevent her from practising here). While the cross-bow requires an incredible amount of skill, Sharpe is fully aware that it’s the live target that really enthrals audiences.
“I think the element of danger is really important because without it I don’t think the act would be exciting to watch,” she says, but is emphatic that safety is always the first priority. “If I didn’t feel confident taking the shot, I would just walk off stage.”
As is true for the other performers, showmanship is an integral element of Sharpe’s act. She fully transforms into The Warrior on stage – an alter ego who is bolder, more commanding than the offstage, mild and meek Sharpe. She says the persona is important because “you want the audience to go on a journey with you and feel what you’re feeling on stage.”
Until Dec 29. Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney. $59-$119+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneyoperahouse.com
By Rita Bratovich