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"Communion" Review- An Evening of Magic with Brett Schneider at The Den Theatre

By Debra Davy

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 After a sold-out run at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre this spring, actor and magician Brett Schneider’s hit one-man show COMMUNION: An Evening of Magic, returned to Chicago for three performances only at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, August 4-6, 2017.

Brett Schneider; the magician with a deck of cards


Brett Schneider is an actor, magician and illusion designer who has been performing magic professionally for over 20 years and is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, California. His work has received numerous awards and citations and he was a finalist in World Magic Seminar. Recently, Brett starred in and created the illusions for the Goodman Theatre’s hit production of The Magic Play. In addition to magic performance, Brett also works as a magic consultant for theatre, television and film. His theatrical work has been twice nominated for a Jeff Award and has appeared in venues such as The Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and The Roundabout Theatre in New York. His work has also been incorporated into TV shows, music videos, short films and features.


 Schneider will have you believing he can read your thoughts; it certainly seems he can influence them! Somehow he either places ideas into your mind or reads what is there, although he is very careful to avoid answering queries about future events. He’s a proficient hypnotist, and a dab hand at picking out those in the crowd who are good subjects. In fact, he is superb at choosing people from the audience to aid him in his work. He employs a minimum of props, and these are simple and mostly utilized by his spectators. He visibly concentrates hard and usually "guesses" correctly. His variations on classic magic stunts are most impressive.

Brett Schneider unthreading swallowed needles; photo by Greg India


 This man specializes in close-up magic, something many other performers of this type are loath to do, because their hands are NOT demonstrably quicker than your eye- his are! In this show, the audience is intimate in size and Schneider uses both the strolling and the stationary forms of close-up. When he strolls, he approaches and recedes, always returning to the front of the room. In the stationary variety, he stands or sits before the assembled group, executing continuous tricks while selecting persons to participate with him. Whether sitting right next to a shy stranger or selecting a hidden card from someone seated in the back, he has the guests as putty in his hands. Intakes of breath and cries of amazement regularly filled the room.


Magician and communicator extraordinaire, Brett Schneider

 Schneider’s warm personality and calm professional presence are extremely compelling and no small adjunct to the working of his craft. He is witty and at times the self-deprecatory quips come unexpectedly and even provoke near-hysterical laughter.  Most magicians will ask their audience to use their imaginations, but perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the show for this reviewer was Schneider’s passionate references to the human desire and need for communication. I’ve tried to write this review without spoiling any of the act, but let me simply say: the final event in the evening's performance was telepathic wizardry, not illusion!


COMMUNION: An Evening of Magic is a 70-minute performance that explores magic “as a proxy for human connection”. It’s a celebration of the human desire for self-understanding and connection. COMMUNION is a meld of first-class prestidigitation, clever sleight of hand and psychological suggestion with a lot of individual participation/ involvement; each show is different. Don't miss it!

Brett Schneider


For more information, go to the Brettschneiderman website

Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy of Brett Schneider

Published on Aug 06, 2017

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