Radnevsky’s Real Magic
Written and Directed by Paul Zimet
Conceived by Paul Zimet and Peter Samelson
Music by Ellen Maddow
With: Peter Samelson and Dennis Kyriakos
2009: October 9–25, La MaMa’s First Floor Theatre, NYC
Legendary magician Anton Radnevsky (a.k.a. The Great Radnevsky) is returning to the New York stage for the first time in over three decades to perform his one-of-a-kind, bewildering and mystifying magic.
The performance is fraught with emotion and meaning for the legendary magician. Thirty three years ago, Radnevsky disappeared from the city after an audience member died at a preview performance of his much-heralded magic show, Stories and Sorcery. But this October, Radnevsky will return to the scene of that tragic performance and put on an even more spectacular show, an act he has been working on for half his life.
Joined by protege Harry Telkhines, Radnevsky invites audiences into a world where reality and illusion blend, and where all is not what it seems. Together, master and apprentice weave a tapestry of story and illusion, music and image, tradition and innovation, in the search for what is truly magical.
I loved this show: it’s a grand, exciting, intimate magic show, performed in the First Floor Theatre in La MaMa, which means that especially in the first several rows you are closer to the magicians than you’re likely ever to have been. Because it’s a Talking Band show, you know that there’s ever more than meets the eye here than in any regular magic show; writer/director Paul Zimet inserts layers of narrative and story and allusion and illusion on top of and between and around the layers that an ordinary magic show naturally has. It’s not postmodernly self-conscious, like a latter-day Penn & Teller show; instead it’s meta, a show about magic in all of its various meanings and conjurations. It’s a show where you’re never completely sure who is the magician and who is the assistant, or more to the point, who is fooling whom. Is everyone in the room just a willing accomplice to the nefarious manipulations of a guy with a magic wand?
The magic is thrilling, and the audience’s reaction to the magical feats is edifying. At certain moments in the show, I caught myself watching myself watching: I would realize that I was seeing an illusion but instead of trying to work out how the thing was accomplished, I was instead utterly wrapped up in the relationships between Anton [Radnevsky] and Harry [Telkhines] and the crowd. That is magic.
– Martin Denton, NYTheatre.com