The Tempest

The Tempest directed by Trevor Nunn, starring Ralph Fiennes

Paul has once again collaborated with legendary theatrical director Trevor Nunn on his first ever production of William Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’, starring Ralph Fiennes as Prospero.

The production which opened in September 2011 has now completed a limited season at The Haymarket Theatre, West End. Trevor Nunn commented that almost everyone asked where the banquet and banqueting table had vanished to. Shakespeare himself suggested it occurring by ‘a quaint device’.. Paul Kieve isn’t telling where it went…

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The Invisible Man returns after 19 years!

The Invisible Man, Menier Chocolate FactoryKen Hill’s adaptation of H.G. Wells The Invisible Man with spectacular effects by Paul Kieve completed a successful run at the Menier Chocolate Factory from November 24, 2010  to February 13, 2011.

The Invisible Man, Guardian ReviewRead the brilliant  Guardian review.

‘Illusionist Paul Kieve is the invisible genius of British theatre…in an age when the theatre loves to show that it has nothing up its sleeve, Kieve restores our faith in the power of illusion.. (and) leaves you in a state of baffled pleasure’
Michael Billington, The Guardian

‘The production is a pageant of illusion, teeming with magic. His bandages pulled off, Griffin really does seem to disappear; the audience actually gasped.’
Rachel Cooke, The Observer
“The production’s secret weapon is Paul Kieve, a master of stage illusions.”
Charles Spencer, The Telegraph

“Paul Kieve’s illusions .. convincing and ..brilliant”
Libby Purves, The Times

‘Paul Kieve’s magic comes into its own here… as knives and pistols are brandished, books flung, drawers rifled through and cigarettes smoked – all by forces unseen.’
Sarah Hemming, Financial Times

‘Kieve’s illusions may be the star feature of this production, but it would be wrong to give away any of the surprise effects that are as humorous as they are special.’
Paul Vale, The Stage

‘Paul Kieve’s visual illusions are wizard’
Kate Bassett, The Independent

‘Tingly trompes l’oeil from illusionist Paul Kieve’
Brian Logan, Variety

‘Nifty tricks by illusionist Paul Kieve ..’
Ray Bennett, Hollywood reporter.

‘Paul Kieve’s wizard stage tricks’
Caroline McGinn, Time Out

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Magic design for shows: the illusions

One of the most unique aspects of Paul Kieve’s work is his ability to invent and adapt magic effects to specific requirements.

The Unmasking

The Invisible Man

“In the night’s most spectacular moment, The Invisible Man unwraps his bandages to reveal the hole where his head ought to be and miraculously contrives to smoke a cigarette” Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph

Formula 86

Used to close act one of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, in the West End. A boy appears to visibly shrink and change into a mouse! This sensational illusion was featured twice on the BBCTV show Blue Peter. “Dazzling Stage Disappearance” Time Out

Skeleton cabinet

Skeleton by Tanika Gupta Soho Theatre

A girl runs into a cabinet and covers herself with a shroud – when it is pulled away she has changed into a skeleton. Created for actress Mina Anwar in a production of  “Skeleton” by Tanika Gupta at the Soho Theatre, London 1997 it involved the skeleton changing back into Mina Anwar. “A wonderful shock when the medical skeleton comes to life” Meera Syal, the Express

Maze of Mirrors

A beautiful dancer gets trapped in a maze of mirrors and then visibly dissolves into nothing. Created personally for Andrew Lloyd Webber for a sequel to “The Phantom Of The Opera”, the illusion was performed at the composer’s Sydmonton Festival in 1997. “You did an absolutely fantastic job in creating the illusion…it was knockout” Andrew Lloyd Webber

The Ghost Mirror

Designed to enable the Ghost Of Christmas Past to walk through an apparently solid full length mirror in the Leslie Bricusse musical “Scrooge” “a beautiful & baffling illusion”; “a vanishing ghost of Christmas past whose face looms in a mirror” Nicholas De Jongh, Evening Standard

The Queen Of Hearts’ appearance

Queen of Hearts, Alice in Wonderland

A giant playing card transforms into a real living Queen Of Hearts. Created for English National Ballet’s production of Alice In Wonderland. “A Great stage effect” Debra Craine, The Times

A Passionate Woman
Directed by Ned Sherrin. Comedy Theatre, West End 1995. Effects included actor Neil Morrissey apparently passing his hand through a solid “Ghost” – actor James Gaddas.

Point Of Death
Liverpool Playhouse 1995 Written by Michel Cooney (“Identity”). The unusual time jumping storyline involve the entire set to be literally – a box of tricks – resulting in some of Paul Kieve’s most innovative work.

Arabian Nights
Directed and adapted by Dominic Cook 1999 – included the cutting up and restoration of a Kazeem in the Ali Baba story.

The Nativity
2000 directed and adapted by David Farr – effects included Mary (played by Nina Sosanya) vanishing in the centre of the in-the-round auditorium of the Young Vic, and becoming instantly pregnant!

Woman With Head, Woman Without Head

Woman With Head, Woman Without Head, ICA

Performance Piece by Orlan Institute Of Contemporary Arts, London, 1996

Celebration – Holiday On Ice

Three year international tour and seen by almost three million people. First collaboration with Artistic director Robin Cousins to create illusions for the spectacular Venice Carnival section. 2001 – 2004

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Theatre of Blood at the National Theatre

Theatre of Blood by Lee Simpson and Phelim McDermott was based on the 1973 movie starring Vincent Price and Diana Rigg.  A collaboration between the National Theatre and Improbable, it tells the story of seven self-regarding theatre critics who assemble at a disused theatre in response to a mysterious invitation. Too late they discover its gruesome purpose as Edward Lionheart, an actor frenzied by a lifetime of sneering reviews, hacks his revengeful way through the bloody works of Shakespeare, assisted by a gang of murderous tramps.

Illusionist Paul Kieve stages the murders in quite extraordinary fashion. They are as utterly convincing as they are hilariously horrific, with blood flying and bodies crushed and set on fire… “Theatre of Blood” is a hugely entertaining night at the Nationa Theatre.
Ray Bennett, Hollywood reporter, 26 July 2005

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Paul Kieve – magic consultant on RSC and National Theatre productions

Paul Kieve’s services are regularly called upon by the UK’s leading theatre companies – the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

Haroun and the Sea Of Stories by Salmon RushdieWork includes:

  • Theatre of Blood, National Theatre, 2005. See separate article.
  • The Winter’s Tale directed by Matthew Warchus: RSC, The Roundhouse & Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 2002.
  • Haroun and the Sea Of Stories by Salmon Rushdie:  National Theatre 1998
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by David Edgar (after Robert Lewis Stevenson): Royal Shakespeare Company Barbican Theatre – 1991. In this version the two characters were played by two different actors – Roger Allam and Simon Russell Beale – and each time the potion was taken they had to physically change into each other.
  • The Tempest: RSC Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford Upon Avon 1993. Directed by Sam Mendes. Illusions included a miraculous materialising banquet.
  • Spring Awakening adapted by Ted Hughes: RSC – The Barbican, , 1995
  • The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov directed by Adrian Noble: RSC – Swann Theatre, Stratford Upon Avon – 1995 & West End 1996
  • The Mysteries directed by Katie Mitchell: RSC, The Pit, London 1998
  • Volpone by Ben Jonson directed by Matthew Warchus: National Theatre 1995
  • La Grande Magia directed by Richard Eyre National Theatre – 1995
  • The Ramayana: National Theatre (from Birmingham Rep) 2001
  • Edmond by David Mamet (starring Kenneth Brannagh): NT – 2003. A small but important scene involving the Three Card Monte
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde  By David Edgar

Roger Allam and Simon Russell Beale in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by David Edgar

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Cinderella, Lyric Hammersmith

Cinderella, Lyric HammersmithCinderella was collaboration with Neil Bartlett and Improbable Theatre at the Lyric Hammersmith in 1998.


Blithe Spirit at Chichester

Blithe Spirit, ChichesterBlithe Spirit by Noel Coward directed by Tim Luscombe Chichester Festival Theatre & National Tour 1997.


The Witches by Roald Dahl

The WitchesThe Witches by Roald Dahl, adapted and directed by David Wood, played the West End in 1992 & 1996 and three extensive National Tours. The illusion work included the transposition of children into mice, and the disappearance of a stage full of witches in the final scene.


The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man by Ken Hill based on the novel by H.G. Wells – 1993. Theatre Royal, Stratford East then 7 months in the West End. Extensive national tour 93/ 94. The show featured a record breaking 53 illusions devised by Paul Kieve including the spectacular “Unmasking”. Nominated for Best Entertainment Olivier Award.

Ken Hill's The Invisible ManKen Hill's The Invisible Man


A Singapore Carol

A SINGAPORE CAROL, Victoria Theatre, Singapore Christmas 1994. A modern day version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the play was packed with illusions and effects and was Singapore’s most elaborate non-musical production ever.