The Last Illusion, Bash Street Theatre, Artsreach tour at Corfe Castle

review-bashstreetBASH Street Theatre, in Dorset this month on a short Artsreach tour with The Last Illusion, has a great reputation in Cornwall, where the company has been based for 22 years.

Inventive and multi-talented, performers Simon Pullum and Jo-Jo Pickering have won street theatre awards and have toured extensively, around the UK, to 18 European counties and to Egypt, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

The Artsreach tour has brought them to Child Okeford, Corfe Castle, Broadmayne and Portesham, where audiences were taken on a magical mystery tour into the lives and secrets of a retired music hall couple, Rene and Rinaldo.

In their tiny sitting room, full of the memorabilia of their past, they turn the pages of an old album and remember the good old days when they strutted their stuff in glamorous costumes, flirted with each other and wowed the audience with their stunts and tricks.

Rinaldo does his Houdini act, Rene is cut into three in the ZigZag lady box, they dance and play games with the audience and Rene watches with concern as Rinaldo seems to falter and faint after one particularly strenuous stunt.

They have been invited to come out of retirement for one last final farewell performance at a local cabaret evening – and so they prepare to dazzle the audience with their show-stopper trick, helped by not one but two volunteers from the audience.

This is a show without words, but these two experienced performers tell their stories with wit and charm, using mime, dance, slapstick and silent movie-style comedy, all accompanied on a variety of instruments by Ewan Macauley.

In the interval 12 year old Lachlan shows that one of the rising generation has a few tricks up his sleeve, performing a number of classic conjuring tricks with cards, ropes and cups and balls.

Jo-Jo Pickering and Simon Pullum founded Bash Street Theatre in 1992. Simon trained as a journalist before joining Cornwall Theatre Company in 1982. He later co-founded Jo’s Jungle Band, and developed his musical and circus skills. Jo-Jo studied contemporary jazz ballet.

Poignant and funny, clever and baffling, The Last Illusion is a delightful show that brings an old style of performance bang up to date to the delight of audience members of all ages.

Many in the Corfe Castle audience had never heard of Bash Street Theatre but had come, expecting to be entertained, because they trust the quality of Artsreach shows. And they were obviously very happy with The Last Illusion.

On this showing, Rene and Rinaldo may have to come out of retirement for a few more final farewell performances!



• Corfe Castle village hall is well-used by many village organisations and for regular events including antique fairs, but the committee is hoping to extend the building to provide better facilities, including a stage. Planning permission has been granted for the extension and the committee is now looking at grants and fund-raising for the estimated £700,000 cost of the building work. For more information on the hall visit the website


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