Theater Review: THE FUTURE (Geffen Playhouse)

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by Tony Frankel on December 15, 2020

in Theater-Los Angeles,Virtual


The Geffen Playhouse is forging ahead as Geffen Stayhouse, offering another magic show disguised as theater. Following the phenomenal success of The Present, the Geffen has now mounted a fairly similar one-man-show written and performed by master illusionist Helder Guimarães. While theaters around the country have tried to copy Geffen’s illusionist and magic one-person shows, I must say no one does it better technically (and they’ve really upped the ante here, but explaining would be a spoiler; let’s just say it is far more theatrical).

But I gotta say that it’s still just a few card tricks, this time tied together by a story about Guimarães’s association with a card shark that changed the way he looked at magic. It’s far superior to watch prestidigitation live in the basement of The Magic Castle, but until in-person entertainment returns, I’m sure people will take what they get. This is my umpteenth one-person show, and magic or not, I’m personally ready for this novelty to move on. (I wonder if after the pandemic ends theaters will continue to try to reach virtual audiences globally with shows such as this; oy, more screens to look at.)

Under the direction of Frank Marshall (who also directed Guimarães in The Present), The Future is an intermissionless, 80-minute act performed virtually through live video conferencing. In it, the Portuguese-born illusionist and storyteller recounts his tale a bit like patter, but there is fantastic sleight-of-hand mastery, not just from him but also from you, the audience member. That’s right: A package arrives with, among other things, an unopened pack of cards which you will eventually cut yourself and it’s thoroughly mystifying and exciting how we achieve such a trick with no practice. There is nothing emotional here, as there was with The Present, but I bet that patrons will get a kick when Guimarães communicates with them, seeking answers to questions and selecting individuals to assist him. Since everyone and their surroundings are visible throughout the show, it’s awesome when we can see each other getting an “A-Ha” moment together, which really is what this experience is all about.

With ticket prices at $95 a household, it’s certainly not cheap entertainment (that price may go up if performances continue selling out). The show has already been extended to March, when plenty of vaccines will have been injected. I agree with my colleague, who said in reference to The Present that on-screen theater doing well at The Geffen means folks are reminded of theater’s necessity, and they’re rallying to save it after an invisible force shuttered houses around the globe. May they re-open soon.

photo by Catarina Marques
poster photo by Jeff Lorch
The Future
Geffen Playhouse
EXTENDED to March 14, 2021
for tickets ($95, for now), call 310.208.2028 or visit Geffen
Monday              No performance
Tuesday             8:00 p.m. PT
Wednesday       8:00 p.m. PT
Thursday            8:00 p.m. PT
Friday                 8:00 p.m. PT
Saturday             2:00 and 8:00 p.m. PT
Sunday               1:00 and 7:00 p.m. PT

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