Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pair Have Old and New Tricks Up Their Sleeves

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pair Have Old and New Tricks Up Their Sleeves

Article excerpt

If you entered the Marquis Theatre not knowing what performers you were going to see, the illustrations arranged around the proscenium arch would provide a strong clue.

They reveal how certain magic tricks are done. And if you know anything about illusionists, and the different ways they seduce their audiences, they fairly shout that the evening's attraction is a show by the iconoclastic Penn and Teller.

After a 24-year absence, they're back on Broadway, in a show -- which opened Sunday -- that blends their great old routines with several, somewhat less compelling, new ones. Altogether, it's a fast, entertaining 95 minutes of impressive illusions and equally skillful showmanship, with the amusingly commanding Penn recounting magic lore and lambasting mentalists and others who claim extra- natural powers, and the mute Teller providing a sweet, pixie-ish contrast.

The show starts cleverly with an announcement for the audience to turn on their cellphones, the lead-in to an overly complicated routine that ends with Teller retrieving a lost phone from inside a dead fish.

Things pick up from there.

A good deal of the fun at a Penn and Teller show comes from their revelations of how magic works - before adding a twist. Penn, for example, demonstrates a fake rabbit, made remarkably lifelike by an internal spring that many magicians use. Teller then nonchalantly pulls a live bunny out of a top hat.

After cutting a woman in half with a buzzsaw, Penn shows how her body has been positioned to create that illusion, while the saw is safely braked before reaching her midsection. And then, suddenly, the saw "accidentally" bursts through the barrier, the woman screams and blood and guts are splattered all over the stage. (She reappears whole later in the show.) The two magicians are well-known libertarians, and skepticism of authority is always an underlying element of their performances. …

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