By Mariah MacCarthy
Directed by Christina Roussos
Starring Kim Gainer*, Nic Grelli*, and Diana Oh
Bana: Beautiful, paraplegic, missing. Eric: her (ex?) boyfriend, looking for her. Clara: That burlesque dancer they almost took home. Bana’s donning pasties, Eric’s losing his sh*t, and Clara gets naked and won’t leave. A love story with burlesque.
It’s in making the familiar seem fresh and exciting that this compelling show earns its claim of having real ‘magic’ over the audience. Magic Trick is a funny and sad love triangle…Each of the actors in this piece deserves special mention and acclaim. Kim Gainer plays Clara with a wicked sense of humor and twisted mind games that slowly unravel over the course of the two-hour show. Nic Grelli plays with the complex layers of Eric and creates a puzzling, infuriating, and alluring lover who is both incredibly needy and destructive. Diana Oh shines as Bana, who manipulates all situations to her advantage.
Playwright Mariah MacCarthy has created a very special story of love and betrayal…Director Christina Roussos’…use of the space is truly fun, clever, and serves the story well. A special note of attention goes to light designer Lois Catanazaro and costume designer Orli Nativ…Both the cast and crew have come together to create rich, character-driven overlapping stories in this play. Let’s hope this is not the last Magic Trick that MacCarthy and Caps Lock Theatre has for audiences.
THEASY FRINGE BEST BET: Consistently enthralling…The play’s multiple musical and burlesque numbers were entirely engrossing, with even Grelli showing that men can be talented burlesque performers as well. The sexual pulse running through this play remains constant…It was also captivating to view a disabled main character as this issue is not one often explored theatrically (nor in a way that dodges the pitfalls of sentimentality.) Unlike many of the other plays included within the Fringe Festival, Magic Trick feels more like a fully completed project capable of standing on its own…The characters and plotlines within the work are fully fleshed out and nuanced.
Each of the performers in the play shows a great deal of talent. Oh in particular showed herself to be both a gifted actress as well as a talented singer. Magic Trick offers the kind of unusual, off-kilter story that downtown theater is known for and we can only hope it returns to the stage even after the festival has closed, as it is deserving of its own lengthier run.
Full of sexy goodness…Scratch the surface of all the seduction and right below you’ll find a strong play filled with true emotion, hard choices, honest conversation, not-always-likable characters, and unanswered questions…Solid direction [by] Christina Roussos…Gainer, Grelli and Oh are all fantastic at portraying not only the many different sides that one other individual brings out in them, but then the whole palate and range of different sides that another individual coaxes out…
In a powerful scene that highlights Gainer’s raw strength, Clara – with Bana’s blessing – couples with Eric only to turn on him in a way that is unnerving to watch…While Diana Oh, Kim Gainer and Nic Grelli all strip seductively, with expert wickedness and nuanced allure there’s no mistaking that this play is not about baring skin but about baring emotions. Which, once revealed to another, can’t be hidden again behind a feather boa.
An inventive premise and well-drawn characters…In their post-coital scene together (one of the strongest in the production), it becomes apparent that both Eric and Clara are drawn to Bana’s resolute spirit in the face of her disability. MacCarthy depicts with stunning clarity how each unconsciously hopes that aligning themselves with Bana’s strength will fill a void within themselves….MacCarthy hits her stride in moments such as these, providing remarkable depictions of disability as it affects the disabled and their loved ones in contemporary America.
Diana Oh as Bana, Nic Grelli as Eric, and Kim Gainer as Clara give dynamic and nuanced performances, especially thriving when the script’s dialogue leans toward the confrontational. Especially in the first act, it seems that the characters are perpetually pushing each other’s buttons to get a desired reaction. Director Christina Roussos weaves some softer moments into the mix to great effect, notably in the scene depicting how Bana and Clara first met…The playwright has such a finely tuned ear for dialogue and characterization.”
“-Love is the best.
-Love is the worst.
-You can love someone and still be selfish.
-You can love someone and still be an asshole.
-You can love someone and still leave them, and be right to leave.
-Confusing lust and love is alarmingly easy.
-So is sabotaging other people’s love for you.
-Love is not enough.
-Truly giving in to love requires either innocence or bravery.”
–Mariah MacCarthy talks Magic Trick at Works By Women
“I love theatre that is created because of a need to go deeper into something, to expose all of the beautiful and ugly bits, be it an event or a feeling or a human being or anything really.”
—Magic Trick director Christina Roussos, Q&A on nytheatre.com
“Honestly, I don’t know how I would have survived if I hadn’t written this play.”
—Magic Trick playwright Mariah MacCarthy, Q&A on nytheatre.com
“I think if social judgment didn’t exist, we’d all be burlesque dancers. Bankers, teachers, all of us. Maybe that’s what college graduation really should be–a mandatory burlesque show where everyone participates.”
—Magic Trick actress Diana Oh, Q&A on nytheatre.com
“I see at every turn how Mariah’s characters make the choices they make, even when they are disastrous ones. There is this palpable struggle in her characters of people wrestling with the difference between following one’s impulses and following one’s heart. How to love but not be trapped. How to be loyal but also be free. How we limit ourselves by our own definitions.”
—Magic Trick actor Nic Grelli, Q&A on nytheatre.com
Presented as part of the New York International Fringe Festival at HERE Arts Center (145 6th Avenue) August 18-25, 2012.
Stage Kitten: Lindsey Austen
Burlesque Guru: Jonny Porkpie
Set/Props Design: Tim McMath
Light Design: Lois Catanzaro
Sound Design: Gerry Marletta
Costume Design: Orli Nativ
Photography: Kacey Stamats
Production Manager/ACR: Tzipora Kaplan
Stage Manager: Cliff Moller
*member of Actors’ Equity Association
Photos by Kacey Stamats
Video by Mariah MacCarthy