MAGIC TRICKS OR TRAGIC MIX?
Every once in a while a show comes along that defies classification. Elephant Room, making its West Coast Premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre is one such show. It’s sort of a comedy, it’s sort of a magic show, it’s sort of a bloated SNL skit, it’s sort of an audience participation show … it’s, well, sort of all of the above without particularly doing justice to any of the above.
The audience is transported to the New Jersey basement club room headquarters of the Elephant Room Society (designed by Mimi Lien with an abundance of turquoise and a sparse splattering of vintage furniture) where we meet magicians Daryl Hannah (no not the Splash actress), Dennis Diamond and Louie Magic. The trio is dressed in a cacophony of flashback fashion styles—disco, stoner chic, rock-a-billy (costume design by Christal Weatherly)—and they are on the brink of hitting it big. Or so they think. Let the good times roll.
The show plays like a continuous 80-minute improvisation: there is always a distinct feeling that the threesome is flying by the seat of their pants, quite frequently to no avail. An unjustified amount of time is spent on setting up bits and gags that don’t really pay off. Often, it takes so long to get to the punch line, you’ve totally lost interest by the time the rim-shot moment finally arrives. Some of the slapstick comedy seems to go on and on and on as well: Dennis Diamond does a very funny bit trying to walk up some cement block steps, but it isn’t so funny after long, when it just gets tiresome. With the exception of an excellent omelet-cooking illusion (which incorporates audience participation), most of the magic is low tech, been seen a million times before, and done with much more finesse by other more accomplished prestidigitators.
Paul Lazar is the credited director of the piece but it’s hard to imagine that he did much more than point the boys toward the stage and say “Go!” As created by Trey Lyford, Geoff Sobelle, and Steve Cuiffo, the magical ménage-a-trois of Daryl, Dennis and Louie are cut from the same cloth as the Wayne’s World crew. They are each a very distinct cartoon of a caricature of a person that is amusing at first but wears thin very quickly.
All that said, the show does have some very funny moments and the aforementioned omelet trick was terrific, so it’s not completely void of entertainment value. Still, by the end of the mercifully short mixed bag of tricks that the Center Theatre Group may deem as “theater,” I was more than ready to watch these three guys make themselves disappear.
photos by Craig Schwartz
Commissioned by Center Theatre Group at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City
scheduled to end on September 16, 2012
for tickets, call 213-628-2772 or visit http://www.CenterTheatreGroup.org