My wife and I recently attended a new work on Monday night called "Declan and Jessie's Magic Show". And, um....yeah. This piece needs to be workshopped A LOT before it's anywhere close to being show-ready. The performers themselves have a ton of energy but the show itself is severely unfocused. And that's being kind.
But hey -- I am their father, and that's why I'm here. I mean, how am I supposed to raise the next Haley Joel Osment or Jamie Lynn Spears if they're going to put out stuff like this?
The show, which ran a merciful nine minutes, began promisingly with an introduction by 4-year-old Jessie Beyer, a sparkly blonde who is actually the brains of this duo. It then immediately segued into a nice "magnetic wand" trick by 7-year-old Declan Beyer, another towhead with real ambition and a manic intensity (wonder where he gets that?).
The opening illusion itself was very well done, but immediately led to serious problems -- in the form of open discontent among the cast over the direction of the show. Sadly, this professional jealousy would plague the rest of the piece.
There was also an unbelievably long amount of dead space in between tricks as Declan seemed unable to decide which trick should be next. (CRITIC'S NOTE: Setlist, anyone? Who directed this?) Jessie would suggest a number of tricks, which were instantly rejected by Declan while the audience grew increasingly uncomfortable.
Finally, Declan came out and did a "flipping wand" trick. This was an interesting choice for a follow-up, and certainly something I've never seen before. However, I was unsure where the actual magic lay in flipping a wand like a baton up in the air and catching it over and over again. He received only polite applause for this, which deflated his confidence a bit. As a parent, I constantly second-guess myself when it comes to the kids. Perhaps I should have clapped harder. Perhaps I should have "oohed" and "ahhed" more. Perhaps I shouldn't have let that 8-year-old kid in to see "Dead Wrong" the other night....
ANYWAY, the show seemed to regain a bit of momentum when Jessie rightly seized upon the dead space to regale the audience (of two) with fine, spirited renditions of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and an improvised composition called "We're Doing a Music Show Now". The songs were much better received than either of the two previous tricks. This caused the simmering tensions to burst forth into an open argument. At first, I laughed, thinking it was scripted.
But then Declan snapped, "It's Declan and Jessie's Magic Show, not Magic And Music Show!" And Jessie replied, "I'm tired of being the assistant! I want to sing!" This made me question how long Declan And Jessie can continue in their present form.
The rest of the show continued on, as the actors did their jobs in relatively tense silence. Declan rattled off a few tricks smartly, starting with the "Cut The Rope In Half And Put It Back Together" magic box, a "Watch Me Make Cards Appear Out of Nowhere" trick, and ending with the "Disappearing Stars On The Card" trick, which Jessie unwisely spoiled by saying, "You're putting your thumb over the star, NOT making it disappear!" This had the predictable effect on Declan, leading to yet another public confrontation. And of course, Jessie's space-filler songs between acts continued to outshine the tricks themselves. They wouldn't even hold hands at the end of the show during the curtain call! TENSION.
Honest critique among performers -- good. Honest critique in the middle of the performance -- bad. In particular, Jessie really needs to learn how to be a pro, bottle up her rage over the show until the post mortem, and THEN explode over everyone in shocking fashion.
GRADE FROM DAD: C-
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