By Mariah MacCarthy; Directed by Christina Roussos
Produced by Caps Lock Theatre
Off Broadway, New Play
Runs through 9.12.15
The Studio Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street
by Shoshana Roberts on 9.7.15
Kim Gainer, Chet Siegel, and Ethan Hova in Magic Trick.
BOTTOM LINE: As an attractive paraplegic living in New York, Bana experiences relationships with a hot Jewish player with a trust fund and a seductively strange burlesque dancer.
If you feel the need to clarify “I'm not a creepy kind of guy,” there is a good chance that you might be one. Magic Trick has a lot going for it: sexy burlesque numbers, a unique fast-forward and re-wound timeline, pasties with tassels, a strong female character in a wheelchair, and great comedic timing to balance the real emotions with the hilarious moments.
Bana (Chet Siegel) is constantly going on dates. She uses Tinder, meets people at coffee shops, and seems to be doing very well for herself. Getting them back to her apartment is also no sweat off her back. Perhaps it is the snarky quips or her confidence, but Bana has it going on. There's just one kind of large problem that is consistently annoying. Her wheelchair. It seems like she meets her match with Eric (Ethan Hova). Despite his messy apartment, he has lots of redeeming qualities. Are they enough to make up for the times he is way too controlling? Maybe he isn't too controlling, but Bana just has a desperate need to maintain independence, as she has never stayed with one person for very long.
In fact, not much time passes before she and her new burlesque friend Clara (Kim Gainer) are moving Bana's things out of Eric's apartment in the middle of the night. Exploring the world of burlesque, Bana is enjoying herself, but second guessing the choices she has been making.
The actors here are such an insanely talented bunch. Individually Siegel, Hova, and Gainer are excellent at their craft. I didn't always buy the chemistry between them, but this detracted little from my overall enjoyment. Every moment is polished, and director Christina Roussos wows with her crafting of the production. Moments are lively and fun, yet the serious aspects of the dialogue keep them grounded.
Mariah MacCarthy's fantastic script includes dialogue unmatched by most of the shows I have seen in my lifetime. There is something about the way she writes that really captured my attention. Magic Trick does feel long though, and for me, some of the scenes that don't move the plot along seemed like they could be cut. Yes, all of it was so beautiful and meaningful and funny and interesting, but two and a half hours in a hard wooden chair is difficult for anyone. With all of the breathtaking awesomeness and incredible ideas—like a monologue in sign language—the production feels stuffed full.
There is indeed nudity in this production. As they mention in the show, “naked girls help with everything.” There is a side-splitting 'boy'lesque number as well, performed by Hova. This show has come a long way from its start at the New York Fringe festival to this stint at 42nd Street's Theatre Row. This is a fantastic second production.
(Magic Trick plays at Theatre Row's Studio Theatre, 410 West 42nd Street, through September 12, 2015. Performances are August 27-29; September 2–5; and September 8–12. All performances at 8PM, except September 8th at 7PM. Tickets are $19.25 and are available at capslocktheatre.com.)