BE PUZZLED, AMAZED, ENTERTAINED …
Written & Performed by: Robert Haley
at BATS Theatre, Wellington
From 21 Mar 2013 to 28 Mar 2013
Reviewed by John Smythe, 22 Mar 2013
Robert Haley ends his show, Elixir, with a request for everyone to be circumspect in describing it on social media, etc, so that people can experiences the same surprises we just did. Fair enough.
So. Yep. It's good. Go.
Oh, well given his publicity mentions his “suitcase stocked with delightful elixirs” I can at least reveal that much.
Presumably he bookends the show with Roger Miller's ‘King of the Road' to imply the idea of a travelling salesman, although his sartorial presentation is a far cry from the dodgy vagrant implied by the song.
Dodginess, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. His beautifully displayed ‘elixirs' are doubtless the confectionary equivalent of snake oil. It is the placebo effect he trades in and although he is the facilitator, it's obvious we do it to ourselves.
Confused? Never fear, it is all quite clear on the night, if impenetrable mysteries can be clear. Be it luck, going on a bender, swinging (you have to be there), x-ray vision, memory loss (and recovery), ESP, synchronistic love messages or tripping, the power of suggestion is proven to be as real as the illusions are unreal, if you get my drift.
The contents of the mystery envelopes we get are put to good use. Of the nine plus one ‘elixir' properties Haley demonstrates, I think I suss out two – and trying to demystify the illusions is all part of the fun.
Presentation-wise, Haley does tend to gabble a bit and sometimes losing key words in an instruction or spiel can diminish the experience; that's not the sort of mystery we're after. His low-key affable manner does seem a bit disorganised at times, a bit as if he's trying to remember what to say or how to do it (this show premiered in Melbourne last year), but who is to say whether or not these things are done to distract us?
The only thing I can say with reasonable certainty is you will be puzzled, amazed, entertained … and if you see through one or two tricks, maybe a little bit smug.
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