Review: ‘Cerebral Sorcery’ with Francis Menotti and David London

I’ve oftentimes heard magic referred to as a universal language in the performance realm, not only capable of transcending linguistic boundaries, but cultural and sensational constructs as well. The idiosyncratic brand of intellectual wizardry within Cerebral Sorcery is a testament to the extraordinary and magnetic peculiarity of the two illusionists responsible for its creation. Having met 16 years ago at an interdisciplinary magical retreat in the DMV, David London and Francis Menotti began their initial collaboration on the maiden voyage of this endeavor. Fifteen years later, the pair, now further armed with extensively impressive credits under their belt (including “fooling” Penn and Teller, and the authorship of 8 manuscripts related to magic and illusion), made a decision to resurrect the project for an entirely new era of audiences.

David London and Francis Menotti. Photo by Theresa Khell
David London and Francis Menotti. Photo by Theresa Khell

Performing in this new epoch, saturated with technology and riddled with short attention spans, one wonders how a magic show with cognition at its core would not only enjoy critical success, but perform the even more difficult task of keeping these new audiences fully engaged. Weaving the additionally central concept of Chaos Magic into the mix – the idea that nothing is defined, and thus, possibilities are infinite – creates a fantastically unpredictable narrative that ensures an utterly rapt assemblage for the duration.

With most magical theater, there exists a constant and somewhat predictable formula- introduction, misdirection and a reveal. It’s usually these yawn-inducing formats, along with groan-worthy costuming and over-inflated, sometimes egotistical presentation that cause those who would claim to despise the art of magic, to do so. Luckily for the audiences of Cerebral Sorcery, the “ta-dah” moments are much more eloquent and innovative, lacking in pretension, and accessible in their wonderment. There exists no singular reward after each individual trick, as the narrative which weaves together their relevance becomes more and more delightfully intricate and engaging as time ticks by. The charming affect of Francis Menotti, combined with the whimsical and seemingly boundless energy of David London are perfectly complemented on stage, leaping charismatically back and forth between the academic and the impossible. There is magic beyond the illusions within, as the interaction between the two, accompanying the gradual revelations, throughout, is analogously entertaining in parallel to the sleight of hand, escape artistry and trompe l’oeil.

Cerebral Sorcery provides a healthy dose of magical and intellectual nutrition, peppering in interesting tidbits alongside awe-inspiring illusion, throughout. Though each reveal could stand strongly on its own, they are amusingly off-set by audience participation, witty anecdotes and good old fashioned slapstick. The show’s hosts continually challenge their audience to “think outside the box” while performing feats forcing them to constantly redefine their notion of reality. Cerebral Sorcery proves, above all, that there is marvelous magic in possibility, and you can see it too- if you simply open your mind to the experience.

Photo courtesy of Cerebral Sorcery.
Photo courtesy of Cerebral Sorcery.

Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

Note: Half price general admission and VIP tickets for DCMTA readers to this weekend’s performance in Bethesda using promo code DCMTA!

Cerebral Sorcery plays through December 3, 2016, at the Writer’s Center – 4508 Walsh Street, in Bethesda, MD. Tickets can be purchased online.

Interview: Francis Menotti and David London Discuss ‘Cerebral Sorcery’ by Lucrezia Blozia.

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Alex Doll
Meet the deviously dainty carnival darling, Alex Doll! Hailing from Washington, DC, this dynamic damsel runs Atomic Doll Productions, where she has created high-profile sideshow experiences for clients such as 'Ripley's Believe It Or Not', 'Shocked and Amazed', Fox, and ABC. She has performed on ABC7, Monster Madhouse TV, at 'Ripley's Believe It Or Not' and in night clubs and comic book shops all over the United States to the delight and cringe-worthy swooning of her audiences. Ms. Doll currently serves as a textual maven and oddities nurse for Shocked and Amazed: 'On and Off the Midway,' and as a journalist for Huffington Post's 'Weird News'.


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