For the remainder of the year and well into the next, NYC audiences will have the chance not just to enjoy, but to be part of the magic, in Asi Wind’s Inner Circle, presented at The Gym at Judson in Greenwich Village by David Blaine (the record-breaking magician and endurance artist, for whom Wind has served as chief consultant over the past decade). Upon arrival, all attendees are given a blank playing card on which they’re instructed to write their name and first initial. Together they form a unique personalized deck that is central to the remarkable feats the master illusionist performs in the hour-long interactive show.
To make for a more up-close-and-personal experience, the large space of the gym has been transformed by set designer Adam Blumenthal (with production build by Arcana) into an intimate arrangement of tiers of seats around a central round table at which Wind works his magic. With a capacity of fewer than 100 audience members surrounding him, every seat offers a good view of his astonishing sleight-of-hand card tricks and proximity to his stunning skills of mental telepathy. No matter how close you are, you’ll be left wondering, “How did he do that?” I can honestly say, I don’t have a clue (if there were plants in the audience – and I’m not implying that there were – they numbered among the most natural and convincing actors I’ve seen). As Wind himself told us several times, “It was amazing!” Yes, it truly was.
So as not to spoil the surprises or ruin the spontaneous reactions of future viewers to his spot-on performance (for which John Lovick served as magic and script consultant), suffice it to say that the segments involved discerning the names of randomly selected audience members, pinpointing the cards on which they were written, and making the cards appear in unexpected places and configurations. The view from the seats was aided for some of the bits by enlarged live-feed video projected on the table, and Wind enlisted the help of participants seated with him at the table in shuffling, cutting, mixing, and holding the cards, so that he wasn’t the only one touching them, and even chose one person from a row above to go outside the building and ask a stranger on the street to give him a number. Wind nailed every single one of his mind-reading tricks and magical illusions, to the wonderment of all.
In addition to his incredible feats, the highly entertaining and amiable Wind joked with the audience (and had one tell a joke), shared his background (including his arrival from his native Israel to NYC, where he first performed card tricks for tips in Washington Square Park, just a few hundred yards from the present venue), discussed the significance of names (he changed his Sephardic surname, but people still mispronounce Asi), acknowledged his inspirations and mentors (including Houdini, Juan Tamariz, and Dai Vernon, also known as The Professor for his meticulous well-considered detail), and gave a brief lesson in what qualities are needed to make magic more engaging for the audience by building the drama and getting his viewers totally involved and invested in the awe and joy of his craft. It all worked.
Each performance of Asi Wind’s Inner Circle is different, based on the audience, their names, and the choices they make, so be sure to add your own personal touch to this captivating and mind-blowing show.
Running Time: Approximately 60 minutes, without intermission.