Brynolf & Ljung: STALKER

Rock and Roll, bright lights and a screen that says: WE NEED 25 VOLUNTEERS – DON’T BE AFRAID – COMMON, IT WILL BE FUN Come to the stage and be photographed greet us as we enter. (Photos of the 25 are tacked to a bulletin board.)  Las Vegas atmosphere pervades. In fact, Brynolf & Ljung opened for Penn & Teller out west.

Jonas Ljung

The most participatory magic show I’ve seen in years, STALKER involves dozens of volunteers, forays into the audience and real time video close-ups on everything you might miss. Tonight’s enthusiastic crowd was thoroughly game. (It’s safe. No one hypnotizes you into acting like a chicken.) The 90 minute show clips along with neat set-ups and reveals. Humor is low key, performers affable.

“Stalker” is perhaps too strong a word here. Like any mentalism presentation, the two practitioners know things – a lot of things – they logically shouldn’t, but there’s no danger. Seemingly random choices by attendees lead to unexpected results. At the end of the show, Brynolf & Ljung actually share how they surreptitiously manipulate one unwitting volunteer to choose a particular image. (There’s a “chance” to win $300 cash.) The way they manage to glean other ideas/images/numbers is of course, the magic.

Peter Brynolf

A spattering of sleight of hand is integrated. How do two strangers’ names appear written on a tape recorder cassette? (This is a good date show. There’s much teasing about companions.) How does a phone disappear and end up inside a confection? Torn up playing cards grow whole and change suits. Spoons are bent. (This old trope might be eliminated.)

Volunteers are surprised to read one another’s minds. Brynolf & Ljung are adept at reading body language and vocal tone. Personalities are (apparently) disclosed by seemingly unrelated questions. Four guests agree among themselves who should sit where, yet the duo knows in advance. “Sometimes we see patterns, fragments,” they say.

The finale, which involves what seems arbitrary (nothing is arbitrary) and before our eyes the entire show – is terrific.

 An entertaining evening and opportunity for some.

Photos by Jeremy Daniel

Penn & Teller present
Brynolf & Ljung: STALKER
Conceived and Written by Peter Brynolf, Jonas Ljung, Edward Af Sillen
Directed by Edward AF Sillen

New World Stages  
340 West 50th Street

About Alix Cohen (1773 Articles)
Alix Cohen is the recipient of ten New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, TheaterLife, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course.