Using Your Illusions


Every element of Penn & Teller's Las Vegas stage show, now in its 14th year at the Rio, proves the two are great entertainers. The longtime magic partners perform a variety of classic tricks, but always with a twist. A woman sawed in half ends with a burst of (fake) blood; a disappearing elephant is actually a cow in a silly costume; the method for making a ball float is revealed. It's a funny, clever, deconstructionist approach to live stage magic.

The show is often as pointed as it is entertaining. It begins with a declaration that the two are libertarians and features an extended gag making fun of Transportation Security Administration screening procedures. Other tricks include a riff on free speech that involves the suggestion of a flag burning and a bullet catch that nods to the Second Amendment. The show's biggest trick may be that its ideas are as interesting as its illusions. -Peter Suderman