By its very nature, magic is defined by what’s impossible to explain. For early civilizations the rising sun seemed like a gift from the gods, the Greeks believed potions of milk and drowned bugs could make people fall in love with them. During the Renaissance as artists and scientists were devoted to demystifying bodily functions, there was a rise in the arts of necromancy and the study of the occult. Even Isaac Newton believed alchemy was the way of the future, as he tried to legalize it during his tenure in the Royal Mint.
But with technological and scientific progress, and our need to define what everything is and how everything occurs, the room for magic has been confined to clichés (bunnies popping out of hats) and larger-than-life feats at the hands of illusionists who make enormous statues disappear, or who risk their lives to prove they still contain elements of the supernatural, or at least the superhuman, within them.
Enter Gary Ferrar, the unassuming magician who has made a name for himself by reminding us that magic is in fact in the quotidian. In his latest show, Nothing Here Is Real, which plays the last Tuesday of every month at The Cocktail Lounge below Tom Valenti’s Oxbow Tavern (240 Columbus Ave. at West 71 St.) Ferrar concocts the ultimate trick: during 90 minutes he’s able to make cynical New Yorkers believe in the unbelievable.
Seated in the cozy couches and chairs of the Cocktail Lounge, a collection of strangers assembles to watch Ferrar bring out the charm in simple tricks where he guesses what cocktail you thought about from the menu, and then presents you with the exact drink, which he’s been hiding under a brown paper bag. Or more complex acts during which he correctly predicts the order in which an audience member will hit the balls in a pool game.
A little booze certainly enhances the proceedings as audience members are invited to refill their libations during an intermission during which another extraordinary act of magic occurs: strangers become friendlier with each other and discuss what the first part of the evening presented them with.
As the show resumes, Ferrar achieves yet another task worthy of Merlin, during a moment involving a newspaper page, he invokes the name of the current occupant of the White House (because how can we escape him in any newspaper these days?) but rather than bringing our spirits down, by summoning the name that rhymes with “dump”, the audience finds community catharsis and by rejecting his presence, Ferrar leads us into what can be described as a collective spell. Guided by Ferrar, we too have become magicians.
For tickets and more information on Gary Ferrar’s Nothing Here Is Real visit: https://www.ahrealmagic.com/