By TOM DUPREE
David Kwong is not only a magician, he’s also a constructor, good enough at it to create plenty of New York Times crosswords. His show is part magic, part puzzle…but then, isn’t a bit of “magic” nothing more than an unsolved puzzle? He will construct a crossword grid before your very eyes, but your very eyes are being led astray, as he’ll reveal at the startling finale.
Scrabbleiciousness Mr. Kwong invites several audience members to pull random Scrabble tiles from a bag and drop then into a cup. Before an overhead Scrabblecam, he sets himself a time of 2:30 in which to use all these letters, then FAILS, then later reveals that every single move was deliberate. We’re beyond mere stage magic here — this is a good sleight artist AND a good Scrabble player. Whatever he has up his sleeve to achieve the astonishing payoff, he absolutely sells "impromptu."
Mix ’n’ Magic
Part of the beauty of this show is that it slices and dices traditional magic methods into something more meaningful — and amazing. The old how-did-that-signed-dollar-bill-get-inside-the-kiwi-fruit gag electrifies when it’s joined with another major effect that proves the magician has been totally in control all along.
Close-Up As Hell
The cozy showroom in the High Line Hotel means nobody is more than thirty feet away from the artist. That doesn’t mean the closer folks get a better look at Mr. Kwong’s methods, only that he’s able to perform without overprojecting. That intimacy makes you feel you know him after ninety minutes. Magicians often greet their audience after the show; the people I saw responded to Mr. Kwong as if greeting a friend.
Mr. Kwong’s through-narrative is about coders and code-breakers of history. In his hands (and throat), prestidigitation is more than a trifle. It’s an enigma, but somewhere out there beyond the simple a-ha solution is the reason we inquire in the first place.
Naaah, strike that last one. It’s just a bitchin, mind-blowin show.
Tom Dupree has been a professional newsman, adman, critic and editor, and an actor and director at the college and community level. His personal blog is at tomdup.wordpress.com. For this piece, he was graciously granted permission to emulate The Enthusiast.