Escape from reality

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

For even a world-renowned escape-artist, there’s no getting away from the Covid-19 pandemic.

2020 scuttled the Lysterfield South-raised Cosentino’s planned regional tour Deception.

Like his stunning sleights-of-hand and illusions, the year had been a case of ‘expect the unexpected’.

But again like Cosentino’s death-defying denouements, Deception will resurface in his “back yard” in Melbourne’s South East this coming week.

“As a performer with the equipment, trailers and crew, it’s challenging to reschedule and postpone shows – but as they say the show must go on.”

After performing in South East Asia for much of the past five years, Cosentino is excited to be in front of a home audience.

In his inimitable style, there’ll be disappearing acts, levitations, escapes, dance moves, hilarity and audience participation.

All spectacularly backed by his own lighting designer, sets, bespoke costumes and sound.

Since rising to national acclaim on Australia’s Got Talent, his business empire based in Hallam has sprouted children’s books and TV shows watched by more than 100 million.

He’s been awarded the magicians’ highest honours, the Merlin Awards for best international magician and best international escape artist.

Behind the flashy magic is a lot of toil, he says.

His father and mother, both professionals, told him it would have been easier to choose a more conventional path.

“It’s very challenging to turn your hobby and passion into a living – and support others while doing it.

“You can’t just be good, you have to be excellent.

“You can be mediocre in so many things and make a living. In entertainment, you have to be more than good.

“It takes hard work, dedication and a bit of luck. All the stars have to align.”

As a shy 12-year-old who couldn’t read, he was introduced to a Houdini magic book from the Narre Warren library.

What was revealed to him was not just magic, but the trick of reading.

He first performed ‘the French drop’ at home. His father asked him how did he did it, and he felt a “transfer of power”.

Here was his father who came to Australia at 13, couldn’t read, couldn’t speak English and had built his own successful business.

While at the time, Cosentino was unsure of himself, bullied and “back of the classroom”.

“Here was something that my father couldn’t explain.

“I now had control over things and could do things nobody could explain.”

There’s no mystery to his tricks, he says. Indeed, when he made a name for himself, he lifted the veil on magic.

While Houdini escaped behind a sheet, Cosentino’s trickery was in plain sight.

But despite his meticulous planning and skill, there’s another thing this conjurer can’t escape – and that’s the steep rate of insurance.

“That is very real.”

Deception is at Bunjil Place, Narre Warren on Friday 9 July and Frankston Arts Centre, Frankston on Saturday 10 July.

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