There seems to be a resurgence of popularity for magic (and mentalism) these days. Following on the heels of Derek DelGaudio and Derren Brown, simultaneous with The New-York Historical Society’s Summer of Magic, comes Vitaly Beckman – by way of Belarus and Israel. Like many good career practitioners, the magician found his calling at 14 and has performed widely cementing public awareness by confounding Penn and Teller on their television challenge show Fool Us.
A magic/mentalism maven myself, I’ve seen these shows and considerably more. Vitaly is young, personable, and unintimidating to volunteers. His presentation hums along with floating objects, card tricks and duplication of hidden drawings. Among nifty moments with the second and third are a card rising out of a boxed pack held by an audience member seated in the audience and employment of no-hands-on paintbrush. Though none of this is new, it’s nicely handled.
The most striking illusions involve photographic images. With a camera on photos he’s ostensibly taken in London, Vitaly rubs two against one another in sight of a volunteer and an image jumps from one shot to the next leaving blank space on the first. He repeats this again so that three people out of individual shots land on a single photo. That Queen Elizabeth and a Buckingham Palace Guard are featured makes the trick humorous as well as startling. The volunteer swears photos show no sign of tampering. Several photographic images that appear to move and deception with car licenses leaves the theater with dropped jaws.
Leaves falling in the opening image represent the prestidigitator’s causing a black and white photo and drawing of leaves to become colored and then three dimensional – a lovely illusion that’s inartistically executed missing opportunity for greater impact.
Here’s the rub. Vitaly’s show opens with usually absent, self-promoting signage and lacks stylish aesthetics. It looks cheap where the competition is now aesthetically theatrical. Jokes like “Van Gogh had a good ear for music, too bad he cut it off,” should be jettisoned. Patter could successfully be polished.
Having observed this, the well received evening is nonetheless lighthearted fun offering puzzlements for even the experienced.
Three very young boys in front of me were restless throughout. Kids will be entertained, but not, I’d guess, before age 12.
Photos by Jeremy Daniels
Vitaly-An Evening of Wonders
Created by and Starring Vitaly Beckmann
Co-Written by Doug Bennett
407 West 43rd Street
Through September 30, 2018