Three zany magicians update some old parlor tricks with new gags in a series of wacky comedy sketches in this West Coast Premiere performance of Elephant Room at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. Elephant Room was commissioned by Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles and co-premiered at Arena Stage in Washington, DC and at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. The comedic material was created by a trio of writers: Trey Lyford, Geoff Sobelle and Steve Cuiffo. Another trio of magic entertainers engages the audience: Daryl Hannah (not to be confused with Daryl Christine Hannah, the actress, spelled the same!), Dennis Diamond and Louie Magic. The production is directed by Paul Lazar. It's a 90-minute show with no intermission, and some audience participation is involved (no one got wet).
Georja: The audience has to stay on its toes as the guys are often the foil for each other- all three will be doing diverse activities at the same time. One may be executing a fancy sleight of hand while another blows balloons and talks to the audience and the third creates yet another odd and unrelated scenario. Elephant Room is a high-energy fun extravaganza from the first moment of confetti streamers thrown at the audience to the last crazed moments wind down. There is no time to ponder a trick as the show keeps moving forward at a lively clip.
Gerald: It looks like the basement set of Wayne's World from Saturday Night Live, but Louie explains it's their club meeting room, trucked in all the way from his home town in Patterson, New Jersey. That's where he learned his magic, we will come to learn, when his weekend father kindly dropped him off at the toy store for the entire day and the nice man there taught him way too much in the back room.
Georja: Dennis Diamond is a most bizarre character, a bit reminiscent of the great Sasha Baron Cohen. He wiggles around the stage and looks absolutely Dali-esque (as in Salvador Dali) with his black moustache. His footwork when trying to climb cinderblocks and lift one is hilarious and amazing. He levitates and does the most wonderful magic tricks. He also does a comic bit on the phone with the Dali Lama, just before creating his face out of Kool-Aid!
Gerald: Louie cracks at one point that you will be seeing nothing new here, and he's right. Their magic tricks, performed deftly, comprise the usual mix of bottles and other vessels manifested from beneath cloth, eggs that appear and disappear with sleight of hand, and liquids that turn into powders, and vice versa. It's the comedic presentation and arcrobatic choreography that make this show so delightful. These guys mostly make it all look effortless -- except when they deliberately make it look impossible, to great humorous effect.
Georja: I loved the choreography the best. The trio dances around the room in synchonicity to new age and other thematic music, and even sit down and crossed their legs gracefully together as one entitiy.
Gerald: As we said, there was some audience participation, and, as luck would have it, the first person to be picked on was Georja, who endured Louie Magic's taunts with her characteristic grace. Having established that Georja was not a ringer, Louie moved on to some other folks, who participated more actively in some gags, including onstage. Since Georja was obviously not an insider, the audience may have assumed the others weren't also. Not necessarily true, in my humble opinion, especially as regards "mentalist" tricks.
Georja: Darryl Hanna is a strange guy with his stylish cowboy clothes, bleached locks and buck teeth. Between his antics, he plays the lonely divorcee who likes to drink and is able to keep manifesting more booze. He philosophizes with the audience almost as a spiritual leader or guide. All three of our heroes are very well defined, interesting characters.
Gerald: Elephant Room will have you laughing, giggling, puzzled, and perplexed. In the end, you'll be convinced life is just a bowl of cherries. Ooops, wait, no, it's a packet of Kool-Aid. No, it's glass of warm milk...
Georja: For sure it's a fun night!
Photos by Craig Schwartz
Georja Umano is an actress/comedienne and animal advocate.
Gerald Everett Jones is the author of the Rollo Hemphill series of comic novels.
August 22 - September 16, 2012 - Tues - Fri at 8pm, Sat at 2 and 8pm, Sun at 1 and 6:30pm, no performance Mondays
THE KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE
9820 Washington Bl.
Culver City, CA 90232
(213) 628 2772 (Audience Services)
In-person sales are available at CTG Music Center downtown, as well as at Kirk Douglas box office 2 hours prior to performances.
Ticket prices $20 - 50 (Ticket prices are subject to change.)