Monday, March 17, 2014

"THE MAGICIAN" TRICKS HIMSELF




Mark Wonderton has the remarkable ability to make alcohol disappear.  His prestidigitation is a skill he has develped over decades.  Now he does two shows a day at the Four Movement Casino in the seedier side of Las Vegas, a magician who has long ago abandoned his love of the illusion.

The New Haven Theater Company has been pulling rabbits out of its hat, performing "The Magician," a world premiere play by Drew Gray, who also directed his new endeavor.  It played until Saturday, March 15 at New Haven's English Building Markets, 839 Chapel Street, the company's new permanent home.

The story occurred to the playwright in a dream several years ago as "lines not associated with a specific character, not knowing who says them."  He claims to never having been to Las Vegas and to not knowing any magicians personally, yet he has captured the world of Mark Wonderton with sensitivity and pathos.

Magicians are not the only ones wedded to illusion.  We can also deceive ourselves about life.  Mark has clearly lost his "wonder."  In the hands of George Kulp, he is vulnerable, questioning his choices, realizing he has lost opportunities for love  that can never be retrieved.  How much power and control do we actually have?

We meet Mark after his matinee show, backstage with his manager Ronnie, a cynical and skeptical Peter Chenot, whose primary goal is keeping his "paycheck" performing and viable.  The pair sit together and drink and drink and drink, exchanging life philosophy, verbally sparring in a love-hate-love relationship.

A letter from Mark's sister-in-law contains news that throws him into a trickery mode that shatters his world and forces him to reexamine his relationships with family and friends.  How will this news affect his evening show?  Can he go on?

Next up at New Haven Theater Company will be "Shipwrecked!" by New Haven Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Donald Marguiles, that reveals the amazing adventures of a man, escapades that are too exciting to believe.  His unbelievable tales will be recounted this May.  Go to www.newhaventheatercompany.com to officially meet Louis de Rougement, storyteller extraordinaire.

For two decades, with a variety of leaders, the New Haven Theater Company has been producing plays, most often in site-specific venues around  the city that lent themselves to the action.  This is their first  "home-grown" work composed by one of their own in their own new space, accessed after strolling through the intriguing items stuffed into the Vintage Home Goods Store.

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