Review by Alix Cohen
Jason Bishop has a thing about boxes. Assistant Kim climbs into one that collapses to an empty 12” x 12” x 12” structure which is pierced by sabers; she climbs out when panels extend the container to its original size. There’s a mirror at one end for ostensible transparency but stage lighting keeps it dark. Adults are accustomed, kids think it’s cool.
The magician is blindfolded while audience volunteer Sophie chooses toys from an open box in arbitrary order. He then duplicates the succession with contents of wrapped packages. A little girl named Brigitte draws on a handkerchief that’s then tied to Kim’s wrist. The assistant vanishes from one box and reappears in another. Since Bishop removes and reties the kerchief, this one’s confusing. A live terrier named Gizmo “dog number 97” and a borrowed million dollars brought in the stage door by someone dressed as a security guard also respectively dematerialize from boxes.
Close up magic viewed through Go-Pro video on a large screen includes manipulation of white rubber balls which double, triple, and travel in Bishop’s hands at will, multiplying and changing the size of playing cards, and conjuring coins. The practitioner is skilled. Kim’s minor levitation is underwhelming but an instance where she rises 12′ horizontally and the magician unexpectedly joins her is a crowd-pleaser.
The bulb of a ghost light* that disappears and reappears with a smiley face paper bag over it is original. When it again vanishes and returns with a crumpled piece of that bag inside it, I wonder whether kids in the balcony can see what occurred. We all secretly choose an element from the sheet below, then count out the number of letters spelling the symbol and move clockwise, repeating that twice wherever we land. Everyone ends up in the same place.
To my mind there are two lovely moments, ironically easier illusions. A large, gaseous, floating ball moves to Bishop’s command, then vaporizes into the air. Streamers emerge from a wet mass of paper rubbing hands together creates snow- while snow falls from the ceiling.
Oh, and Kim twirls batons with lights at the end. Rather well.
This is not a kids magic show. Reference to Hogwarts (School of Witchcraft and Wizardry), is the only bit of patter skewed young. (The audience is full of 5-10 year- olds). Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity are cited. Bishop quotes the late Walt Disney as saying “Hey kids, this place is not free, beat it,” then retracts it. He explains manipulation as “… what the Russians call Stupid American Magic” and tells us you know his dog is male because one ear up and one ear down means he’s only half listening.
Rock music is loud and teenage. None of the apparatus is playful. Bishop looks as if he slept in his clothes and wandered in with two day stubble. He often mutters under his breath when lines don’t land well. Most kids don’t shake his extended hand.
The audience is nonetheless quiet and well behaved. Perhaps they’re getting more out of this than I imagine.
*Ghost Light- an electric light that is left lit on the stage of a theater when the venue is unoccupied and would otherwise be completely dark.
Photos by Alexis Buatti-Ramos
Believe in Magic
Assistant Kim Hess
The New Victory Theater 209 West 42nd Street
Through December 30, 2017