Thursday, February 14, 2013

Review of The Magnificents at The House Theater of Chicago

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Magnificents written by Dennis Watkins. It was at The House Theatre and directed by Nathan Allen. It was about this small circus where there was an aerialist, Honeydew (Lucy Carapetyan), and a clown, Chase (Michael E. Smith), and a strong man, Harley (Chad Hauge), and a magician (Dennis Watkins/the playwright). The problem is that Magnificent is the magician and he is very old and they don't know what to do without him if he dies. But before they start freaking out that he is going to die and there is not going to be a magician, a little Boy (Tommy Rapley) comes along and steals a wedding ring from an unlucky audience member. And Magnificent's wife, Rosie (Tien Doman), decides that she's going to let the Boy stay even though he is a "thief," as Magnificent says. The boy ends up being able to do magic like Magnificent, but first he has to do training. He becomes part of the family at the very very end. I think the play is really excellently written, and I think all the actors are perfect for their roles.

My favorite thing at the beginning was when they said "Hey everybody, we got a nickel!" And they are just screaming inside the big truck/stage because they are so excited that they got a nickel even though a nickel is not a very big deal at all right now. It may have been back then, but it is not now; it made it really funny. Then there was a really cool trick with the Strong Man where he laid down on a pad of nails, and a brick was placed on his belly, and Chase smashed it with a hammer, and he just got up like nothing had happened!

One of my favorite magic tricks was a magic trick and also a story. It was a story because Magnificent was telling a story with the cards, but it worked so perfectly that it was exactly like a magic trick. He said he was going to the 654 club. It would have been cool if he had pulled out a card with clubs on it after he put down the 6 5 4 cards. I liked how it was a story about when Magnificent was a kid and he was telling it to the Boy.

The trick that I participated in was a very amazingly awesome trick. The first time when Magnificent spun around the little house, he pulled out a stuffed bunny. But he said, "We can do better." Of course, me being a kid, I thought, "That's a pretty cute bunny--how could we get better than that?" But he could get way better than that. He made an actual bunny come out! Then he said, "Very nice but impractical." So then he spun around the house again and Honeydew popped out at gave me some candy. I think that is pretty good, as a matter of fact! That's AWESOME!

There was a really cool scene where Chase was playing doctor and he put Magnificent in the box and then slid him apart, so then he had two halves. But it wasn't like the usual kind where the assistant laid down and the magician did the actual trick. It was reversed; it was the assistant doing the operation to the magician. And he was standing up as well. It was trying to tell us how he was kind of unable to do the tricks that he used to because he was so old.

There was a part of the play where Honeydew was teaching the Boy how to do the silks. And at the very end even though he did a very good job, she said he didn't because he was not supposed to touch her because it was a place where people weren't supposed to be able to touch her, and then he touched her. I thought the acrobatics for the silks were really amazing. I do a little bit of silks myself; I have been taking circus for a few months. And I just thought it was amazing that she could do all those tricks and it made me understand some of the moves that were tricky for me even more.

One of my favorite scenes was one of the weirdest scenes as well. I'll tell you why it was weird. Chase started this music that was like this fair music, and I have no idea what was happening in that scene. I love being confused as a matter of fact. I think it is something you need in a show. So then it is not just telling you everything, so then you can try to figure out things by yourself. I decided that they were trying to get the Boy to be a clown, but the thing is he is a little too shy to be a clown because he didn't do the chorus part until the very end. You could not really understand all the words because it was such an old track and it sounded like it was being played on a old fashioned record, which it was. One of the other funny things that Chase did was when he turned on the music on side B, and then it turned into this horrifying shipwreck music, and he pretended like he was actually in a shipwreck, and he started to pretend to swim, and then he was rolling around on the floor and trying to get to the record. And then, when he finally turned it off, he said, "Never side B!" And then that crazy song that I talked about came on.

This you might not think yourself, but I kind of think it. It is that there is a secret love triangle metaphorically and actually. If you look at the program you can turn the program around and you will see a triangle of people in love which is the Boy, Honeydew is in the middle, and Harley is on the other side. I think there is a love triangle in the play as well. Here are my versions of what could be happening and why Harley doesn't like the boy. 1) The boy kind of likes Honeydew and so does Harley. 2) Because the Boy is getting all the attention. And 3)The Boy took the opening act like Harley said, but when he said that he could be lying so Honeydew wouldn't know that he liked her.

I thought it was very interesting that Magnificent's name wasn't like Leo Magnificent or something like that. It was just his name. I thought if I ever met his mother I would tell her "That is an awesomely weird choice." Or it could have been a nickname. That is the question that I would ask his mother: Is it a nickname, Magnificent, or is it his actual name? I wondered why the Boy was just called the Boy and you never found out his name even at the end. Maybe he was like one of the lost boys; maybe when he was born his mother died in birth or something and maybe he didn't have a father and so he didn't get a name when he was born. I think his name will be Magnificent because the Boy is going to become a magician.

One of the most touching scenes of the play was at the very end where Rosie and Magnificent were dancing together and he is dying so it is super sad. It is actually still making me cry a little bit. When Chase runs off and is blowing his nose and says, "That's too sad," then he comes back with a record that is much happier. This is not a show that is always sad, just close to the end it gets sad, and then it gets happy, and then it is the end. And it is also the end of this paragraph.

People who would like this show are people who like magic, family, and bunnies. People should see this show because it is funny, touching, and good for an entire family to go see. I loved it because the acting was amazing and they actually seemed like they were a family. The magic is mesmerizing!

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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