On an otherwise seemingly normal Friday night, it was time to attend “The Present,” a one man magic show, written and performed by master magician/illusionist Helder Guimaraes, and directed by Frank Marshall. However, it was anything but normal circumstances, since all audience members were sheltering in place, comfy at home, presto-change-o ready for the Zoom show to begin. In advance of the performance, we each received by mail, a mystery gift box, wrapped securely with wool twine, only to be opened seconds before show’s start. This special delivery package added all the more suspense and intrigue.
The box, replete with a deck of cards and word puzzle, served as the prelude to an amazing, dazzling show, filled with card tricks and virtual audience interaction galore. Guimaraes’ aura is something of a supernatural, magical, other worldly nature, as he vividly depicts his relationship with his beloved grandfather, from whom he learned the craft of magic. He wowed the audience, as I could see people on each zoom checkerboard square, anticipating his next draw, (and their own), with bated breath and wide eyed wonder. An interesting plus of watching on zoom is the ability to see main performer and audience reaction simultaneously. As wonder and uncertainty is upon each day lately, magic and uncanny feats bring a sense of comfort and nostalgia. The show allows us a time of playing with a full deck, lining our cards in order, shuffling and cutting, regaining some sense of control. Guimaraes presents not only a flair with numbers and letters, but also a theatrical, chronological story of his childhood into adulthood, allowing the audience to enter another dimension and escape current reality, albeit for a brief ninety minutes. His innate skills and impeccable instruction on the how-to’s of card tricks reveals his mastery of mind reading and irony, as I continually found a lucky four of diamonds showing up in each of my dealt hands; with a surprise symbolic gift related to my designated chosen number, in a small black envelope, at show’s end. Guimaraes is both enlightening and empowering in his display of wizardry. Why not treat yourself to an evening of escape, with card tricks a plenty and surprises in store!