Off-Broadway Theater Review: CHARLATAN (Ars Nova)
In a way shows that are pure spectacle – acrobat, dance, magic – must achieve a higher level of virtuosity to be successful than, say, theatrical plays. Even a flawed play can be satisfying. An abundance of drama, for instance, can help take our attention away from the superficiality of the themes; a great actor can turn even trite dialogue into something special; and an inspired director can make an admirable show out of a questionable script. But for pure spectacle to be satisfying not only must the performers’ technique be perfect but the feats on display have to be astonishing; our response to it all must be “Wow!” Charlatan, co-written by Josh Koenigsberg and magician and “mind-reader” Vinny DePonto, and performed by Mr. DePonto under Andrew Neisler’s direction, ostensibly attempts to explore deception and self-deception through a series of illusions.