I went to see the theatrical production Play Dead on Thursday evening and was quite disappointed. Because Teller of Penn and Teller was involved in the production, if not the actual performance.
The premise of the show was that it was a reproduction of a midnight spook show, something that was, apparently, quite popular back in the 1930s and all the way to the 1970s, although I never saw one. These shows consisted of a magician who booked a movie theatre for a midnight performance, had fake skulls strewn about, a couple of comely assistants skimply dressed up as vampires or something, and a lot of spooky music. The shows were often quite cheesy and basically just provided a dark place for teenagers to make-out.
Well, they captured the cheesy part. The theatre holds about 50 people and the stage is quite small. The host started out by eating a lightbulb (jeez, haven't seen that before) and then proceeded to tell stories based upon the content of cardboard boxes stacked on shelves. The stories were about real people, such as Albert Fish, who lived in Brooklyn and kidnapped, murdered and ate small children back in the 1800s.
As the stories were told some relatively basic illusions were done, some involving members of the audience. There were also some mindreading tricks that, quite frankly, if they have nothing do do with you are really quite boring. Who cares if someone in the audience is thinking of a lost relative or close friend whose name sounds like Harry, or Larry, or possibly Carrie. Is there someone in the audience.... Well, of course there is, proably half the audience.
The most amusing illusion was the one that involved the conjuring up of Eusapia Pallidino who, in the 1880s and early 1900s claimed that she had control over the dead. When she was conjured into existence she was nude (a bit of titillation for your money) and, somewhat out of character, sporting a bikini wax job.
At any rate, I have seen better shows put on by kids in their garage. Except for that naked girl part, although when I was a kid we certainly tried to recruit one of the neighbor girls for that role. We never even got one to audition.
On the plus side, before the show we stopped into Minetta Tavern for a drink. The last time I was there, a couple of years ago, it was an Italian reastaurant. Now it has new owners and is French. We got there about 5:00 PM thinking we could just grab a table for an early dinner. We were told we could wait to see if a table opened up due to a cancellation. And the place was empty. But not for long.
We sat at the bar and had a drink and by about 6:00 PM the place had really begun to fill up, and there were no cancellartions. We settled for drinks, a Manhattan for me and some kind of a special drink for the Mysterious Chinese Woman. I forget the name, but it was one of the signature cocktail designed just for Minetta. It was really quite good and the next time I pop in I am going to have one of their specialty drinks as well. And I will return, and with a reservation.
I didin't feel like eating French so we wandered down a few doors to a Mexican restaurant, the name of which escapes me. It was huge though, and pretty much empty. The staff was friendly enough and they made my Margarita to my specification, using fresh lime juice and Herradura silver tequila. This was after they gave me a free taste of their house Margarita and I found it to be too sweet. Interestingly enough, our waiter was from Minnesota, where yours truely was born and spent his formative years.
The food was plentiful, but pretty typical fare. I liked my cheese enchilada because it was nice and greasy and cheesy, just the way they should be. They are kind of meant to be eaten early in the morning after a night of drinking to absorb some of the alcohol before you go to bed. And to give you good farts the next day. The Mysterious Chinese Woman didn't like what she ordered for the same reasons.
Actually, there is kind of a funny story about Mexican food, farts, a drive-in movie showing Jurassic Park on the side of a building during a thunderstorm and my first date with the Mysterious Chinese Woman. Despite, or maybe because of, that night we are still together.