This, thanks to the miracle of magic, will be a short article. To write too much about The inner circle of Asi Wind (presented by David Blaine; Gym in Judson, until December 31) would mean screwing up or revealing too much. After all, this is a show of magic tricks, played, as the title suggests, to an audience of just under 100 people in an intimate space specially designed by Adam Blumenthal in a much larger theatre.
Wind sits in the center of a round table, while spectators occupy the other seats. Then there are four rows of seats, while the rest of the audience stands up in front of him and looks down from above. At the beginning, we’re asked to put our names and initials on playing cards (blank on one side), and that’s all this reviewer will say. With our names, Wind performs a series of increasingly amazing tricks.
Identity and the power of names give the show its meaning. The audience is directly involved because a person’s name can be mentioned by him or chosen by another audience member. As Wind says in the program, “You could be next!… People respond to their name. Names are powerful; think about how much your name means to you.” (His own birth name is different from the one he has now, he says, and yes, he’s heard the name you see here said in many strange ways.)
Wind says he was inspired to create this intimate space after an intimate and impromptu magic show by his mentor Juan Tamariz. Wanting to give the audience the same feeling he had that night, he named the show after such mentors, who are “the reason I can do what I do. Everything I know as a magician I owe to them, my magical family. Their generosity has made me the wizard I am.”
The salt and pepper Wind is handsome, charismatic, mischievous and very funny, but not cruel. The audience is tasked with doing things (including shuffling and snapping decks of cards), and that makes for some physical comedy as Wind brutally confuses the tricks in front of our eyes. Look around this small space and you will see everyone like you scurrying and looking ahead. Very soon we are entranced and amazed.
Wind is also a storyteller, and so we hear—without adding filler to this fast-paced performance—that he comes from Israel to live in New York, and how, with not much at all, he first did magic in Washington Square. Park, just a jump and a jump from the room where we’re sitting. He is open to the public about his craft in a way that is seductive and non-patronising, telling us that magic tricks are actually about causing “trouble”, meaning the tricks we watch can be much shorter, but the fun of it – as with any short story or set piece – is in the construction and the telling; sketching a beginning, middle and end that requires all our attention.
It’s making as elaborate a trick as possible—drawing it out, asking us to do things, building one revelation on top of another—that increases our amazement and awe. The culmination of this show will remind you of the culmination of any story, or fireworks — and Wind, lucky for us, has an innate desire to surpass every sleight of hand he’s just done.
“We can only do it for an audience that wants to see magic. They are a necessary ingredient to complete the circle of what we create.”
— Asi Wind
There’s a moment in the show before we reach that big end when Wind talks captivatingly about his magician heroes, including Tamariz, Chan Canasta and Harry Houdini, who, Wind says, would have fooled an audience into thinking he was still on the show. was on stage when he had actually had a relaxing cup of coffee a few minutes backstage. It was from Houdini that Wind learned the importance of creating drama. This show has that – and as the title suggests, you really feel part of the “inner circle” because Wind doesn’t just involve us in the making of the show – he also involves us in his business and the practice of magic.
Magicians don’t do magic, Wind says, they “can only create the illusion of magic, but we can only do it for an audience that wants to see magic.” They are a necessary ingredient to complete the circle of what we create.” Wind’s job, he says, is to lead an audience “as close as possible to seeing it, and then you take the final step to complete my work as a magician.”
That’s very generous of him. This reporter, seemingly like everyone else in our audience, had no idea how Wind was doing what he was doing right in front of us. But beyond astonishing us, he conveyed to him the history, practice, joy and meaning of magic in simple yet deeply felt ways. Wind makes an audience feel like an integral part of his passion, rather than just joining in on the thrilling ride he so expertly controls. That sense of inclusivity, that shared passion, also feels pretty magical.