Sensation of Magic - Vitaly Beckman at the Havana Theatre

Beckman levitates the spoonSensation of Magic
Designed and performed by Vitaly Beckman
The Havana Theatre
17th to 21st August, 2010

Vancouver, BC. A Magic Show at the Havana? Sounded like it might be fun so a friend and I headed over to Commercial Drive to enjoy a pre-show supper at the Havana Cafe and then watch illusionist, Vitaly Beckman work his magic, so to speak.

The three rows of seats in the small Havana Theatre were packed by the time the show was to start. I had no idea what to expect - maybe a bit of "magic rings or scarves" and some "rabbit out of a hat thingie." I settled back in my seat thinking cynically to myself that in such an up-close and intimate playing space, it would be a cinch to spot whatever tricks he would be using to create his illusions. But I guess I won't be hired as a sooth sayer any time soon! Because...

Enter Beckman, with a disarming, almost self-deprecating, smile and an charmingly engaging personality. He started off slowly with a spoon, two glass tumblers and some gentle swirling motions of his arms and hands. Without touching it, he got the spoon to move around in the glass tumbler. Hmmm ... I thought to myself,  "okay, some kind of magnet or something. "

The next moment the spoon was floating freely in the air.  I sat up and started paying attention - serious attention.

As the spoon moved out of one of the glass tumblers, floated through the air and into a second glass, that was the first time that evening I thought to myself " how the heck did he do that? This  thought rooted itself firmly in my mind as over the next hour, I was completely blown away by one amazing act after another.

During the course of the show, Beckman managed to get lots of audience participation. Watching the facial expressions  of some of the folks he pulled from the audience was priceless, as they tried to figure out how he made things happen, even while they were standing right next to him.

Amongst the mind blowing acts he performed were getting two people, picked at random, to think of a number each. Those numbers turned out to be the number on a yacht in a picture that he had previously placed in a shopping bag. A similar idea was revealing that 5 grocery items, randomly selected by another volunteer from a long list of possibilities, were those he had in another shopping bag.

"Reading" tiny newspaper text from a randomly selected newspaper page at an impossible distance, made for yet another "how the heck?" moment.  My brain told me he must be using a magnifying mirror of sorts but where and how?

Midway through the show, Beckman took a brief break after he brought in a colleague, Michael Ashfrin, who performed some slick sleight-of-hand tricks with coins and cards.

The most impressive acts of the evening, for me, involved the use of photographs. In one act he "moved" figures in and out of the photographs, finally moving them to a separate photograph with which he actually had not physical contact. And the moving London bus illusion. Cool cool cool!

I guess that's why it is so fascinating to watch  a "magic show." Intellectually one knows that there is a perfectly rational explanation that obeys the natural laws of the universe. But when it is impossible to spot the mirror or wire or whatever devices are used to create the illusions, even the most sceptical observer may have a moment of wonder - or many moments.

Born in Belarus, Beckman grew up in Israel where he began to practice magic at the age of 15. Armed with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Israel's prestigious Technion - Institute of Technology in Haifa, Beckman designs his own illusions. He moved to Vancouver in 2008.

As well as performing on stage and television, he works at corporate and charity events. I really enjoyed this performance.

There are three more shows in this current run at The Havana and seats are limited. So get your tickets in advance. The Havana Theatre is at 1212 Commercial Drive on the east side of the Drive, a few blocks south of Venables. Tickets are $15 in advance on line via PayPal  or $20 at the door. You can also get them at Highlife Records, 1317 Commercial Drive.

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