FRINGE REVIEW: Elephant Room

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Brandon_Lafving.jpgBY BRANDON LAFVING FRINGE CORRESPONDENT Elephant Room is a magic show, theatrical performance, and adlib comedy all in one that brings together three multi-talented magicians: Daryl Hannah (no, not that one), Dennis Diamond and Louie Magic.¬† Mr. Hannah, with a prophetic voice and purple coat, played the part of an acid-tripping shaman. His failed attempt to woo Anne White, one of Philadelphia’s prized ballerinas, was hilarious. He asked whether she had a boyfriend. Her response was, no, she didn’t, and as Hannah moved in a little closer, she averred, “I have a husband.”

Sleight of hand, misdirection and other antique parlor tricks were wielded proficiently throughout, and in those rare moments when I did find myself guessing how the magic was being performed, the magnetism of the characters would draw me back to the performance. Any magician worth his top hat can materialize eggs from behind an ear, but these three mysteriously produced all the essential ingredients of a farmer’s omelet, cooked, and then served it to the audience! Dennis Diamond, playing a boyish, sexually ambiguous charmer, dramatically pulled cheese out of thin air and then appeared to grate it by rubbing together his bare hands over the cooking eggs. I could tell he probably had a bag of cheddar up his sleeve, but his paradoxically cocksure and yet unassuming smile, combined with his comically arched black eyebrows, sold me on the spectacle. Plus the omelet smelled tasty. Clearly, this man wields his magic powers for good.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the plot. Elephant Room told a story that supported the personalities of each performer. For example, after materializing a carton of milk, pouring the contents into a glass, de-materializing the glass, and performing a number of other feats with said milk product, the three of them, on a whim, curled up and fell asleep, leaving Diamond to sip on his before-bed soporific. In the following scene he was on the phone with the Dali Lama, twirling the cord in his index finger as he cooed sweet nothings into the sage’s ear: “You can’t spend all of your time giving to others, you know, you work too hard, you little snow monkey; you should get some rest and take care of yourself!” This was rendered all the more hilarious by the fact it seemed to be completely impromptu.

But make no mistake – the giddy, good-natured, happy-go-lucky demeanors of the performers did not belie their professionalism. This was real magic, through and through. To prove it, the Elephant Room itself, a lime green-colored reproduction of an acid den, was raised on cinder blocks above the stage of the rustic Play and Players Theater. This ensured that no trapdoors were used, leaving teleportation as the only explanation I could venture for some miracles. ??Admittedly, I am not too familiar with magic shows, but I left with the impression that these guys were good, really good. Louie Magic performed some truly remarkable tricks with a simple rope and metal ring at one point in the performance. In quick succession, the rope was looped around the ring, released, split into multiples, and then reunited into a single cord. These were made more impressive by the fact that each trick was done while the ring was suspended in mid-air, which would have impressed the most ardent magic fan.

 ELEPHANT ROOM RUNS THROUGH SATURDAY AT THE PLAYS AND PLAYERS THEATER

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