The desire to connect is so powerful that it is almost supernatural. So says illusionist / mentalist Scott Silven near the top of The Journey. He’s right, as anyone familiar with his 40s can attest. But Silvens’s 50-minute live broadcast of magic and mental reading (mentalism in the language of its practitioners) is saturated with hokey banalities transmitted as cosmic truths.
Silvens’s presence is warm and inviting and he seems to read minds like a modern day Uri Geller. Plus, his ability to get members of the audience to reveal personal memories in front of a virtual room full of strangers is impressive. The pretentiously prodigious atmospheric shows and false runic wisdom are not.
Directed by Allie Winton Butler and written by Rob Drummond, The Journey would have more impact if the storyline focused more on magic and mentalism and less on mystical new-age crystal revelations / Psych 101 reflections on human existence. .
A word about the set-up, designed by Jeff Sugg, with sound design by Gareth Fry and music by Jherek Bischoff. It is the most technologically sophisticated stage production I have seen after the pandemic. (You need a smart device with a microphone, camera, and internet to access the show.)
Silvens’s 30-person audience are seen in plazas spread across the walls of what he says is his home in the middle of nowhere in Scotland. When he chooses someone to interact with, his image leaves the wall and hovers beside him, much like the holograms in Star Wars. Sometimes the audience melts, and the walls are covered in videos of crashing waves, towering stones, windswept highlands, mysterious ruins, and glowing scrawls of light.
Throughout, Silven throws himself into the role of therapist and mentalist, subtly urging members of the audience to reveal pivotal moments in their lives (both death and divorce took place on opening night) while by gently but relentlessly insisting that we can all connect through mind reading. and harness the power of our collective destiny.
A folk tale Silven says that what he learned as a child is the setting for illusions. The story of a boy who spent his life wandering the Scottish Highlands merges with Silvens’ own story as he recalls a childhood spent exploring the Scottish nature surrounding his home.
These walks were first exposed in pre-show content, a pre-recorded portion that shows Silven returning to the lairs of his youth, walking over hills and valleys, serving Byron-meets-Fabio then let him solemnly contemplate the waves or the crashing stone. cairns.
Throughout the storyline, Drummonds is moody and filled with admonitions steeped in omens about choosing your path and shaping your destiny. Silven delivers it with gravitas, but he can’t shake the schlocky feel of the dialogue break room.
When asking members of the audience to choose a photo, stone or square of paper from a pile, Silven continually urges them to choose what works for them.
Silven partly attracts the audience by gently flattering them. Interestingly, he coos when, for example, the group votes to collect small squares of paper at the back of the room before the front of the room. Nice choice, he exclaims after a member of the audience chooses a number. On opening night, he selected two chosen volunteers, explained Silven, because he knew they had a strong imagination and a desire to travel. That pretty much describes anyone who would buy a ticket to The Journey.
Still, there is a genuine optimism for The Journey that is compelling. And the illusions are indeed first rate. At the start of the show, Silven asks audience members to report specific years that have been formative for them. One man opened up about his divorce, another tore himself apart remembering his grandmother. Later, Silven had the maps materialized, with the whole numbers from the years given earlier now materializing as GPS coordinates of places embedded in Silvens’ own story. It’s impressive.
Silven is a master of his craft here, albeit hampered by a cheesy storyline. Plus, I’d be lying if I said there was something here that you can’t see Chicagos Dennis Watkins didn’t do with more pizzazz and less pretentious filling, in his own virtual magic shows.
Catey Sullivan is a local freelance writer.
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