I’m a fan of magic shows. No really I am. I may be a jaded, skeptical misanthrope who is totally apathetic to anyone who tells me the world is a nice place but despite this I enjoy watching magic shows despite knowing it’s all a trick. I enjoy them for two reasons. I have fun trying to figure out how many of these illusions are done. And secondly I love to see the faces of people who think it’s all real. There is a level of bliss and wonderment in that expression that eludes me and I am insanely jealous and I’m a big enough man to admit it. That being said, it always saddens me to know that there are those among us who are excluded from such things. Well, thanks to Juan Estaban Varela, that is now less the case.
Advertised as a sort of magic for the blind, the show From the Dark invites audience members to sit blindfolded in a pitch black room and let their other senses be enraptured by the illusion. Everyone is given a box with a few props and then guided through various illusions. Without a sense of sight you rely very heavily on your sense of hearing and touch. Simple tricks like picking up something fluffy and then hearing something like a coin hit a table when you drop it come off as being more surprising than they would be if you were watching the magician do it.
The level of audience participation in this show is far greater than what most people are used to. Everybody takes part in at least one trick and you get a better feel for audience reception thanks to the loss of sight.
There is however a trade-off. Because no one has a sense of sight the more spectacular tricks that we’ve gotten used to. It all feels like its fairly basic sleight of hand with use of aural cues such as the sound of objects dropping to clue people into the illusion.
Aside from being a one of a kind spectacle that even the blind can enjoy the overall show was fairly pedestrian. You too easily assume that someone you can’t hear there is catching dropped items and dropping the new ones into the boxes or onto the tables. Ambient noise as well as sounds over the speaker system drown out any movement around you and while you assume this is how these illusions are done, you can’t really be sure.
While definitely a novelty the mandatory simplicity of Mr. Varela’s tricks makes this show a hard thing to recommend unless you are already visually impaired or are looking to add a new experience to your list.