Christian Cagigal’s preferred form of magic is the card trick. His beautiful assistant is a digital camera that relays the tricks that unfold from the palms of his hands onto a large screen behind him, but Cagigal is such a lively performer and personality that most audience members’ eyes darted between his face and the screen. Rather than run through a series of tricks, Cagigal tells a story with each one, providing an elaborate frame for the art of his sleight of hand.
Cagigal pulls carefully packaged tricks out of a sepia-toned notebook, using a different set of playing cards for each trick. This is a small detail, but for people who have seen many magic shows, the variety of vintage playing cards incorporated into this performance added a nice touch that echoed the brocaded tablecloth upon which they were scattered or flipped and the wind-up music box that provided a transition between tricks.
Cagigal’s tricks mostly revolve around the revelation of cards turning into other cards or of the type where an audience member, of their own free will, executes a series of choices that result in a predetermined ending pulled out of an envelope or written in a notebook. None of them are obvious tricks, and even those familiar with the mechanics of this sort of magic will be wondering exactly where the hinges are.
Cagigal is personable and charming throughout, slightly self-deprecating, but always with one eyebrow raised. The stories he builds around his tricks tell of fearsome tour guides, bets with the devil, or doomed romantic couplings, but they borrow the theatrical nature of such elements, not the dark drama. Things remain lighthearted throughout the show, and the way he captures the attention and will of the volunteers he brings onstage is fully dependent on his personality.
OBSCURA is a fun magic show that almost anyone will be able to enjoy. It barely nudges the needle on the “fringe-iness” scale, but it’s a welcome addition to the festival, particularly with a certain New Orleans-themed trick involving a ghost tour and Mardi Gras doubloons.
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