Simply Magical

After Vitaly’s performance, we head straight to the bar, order something seasonal – an Imperial IPA, it turns out – and talk through the illusionist’s entire show from front to back. At 101 IBUs, the Imperial’s bitter as hell, a good match for the utter befuddlement our logical brains are facing. After all, it can’t really be magic…

Needless to say, we can’t figure out a single illusion.

Like the David Copperfield rubber band trick that Vitaly showed off on BT Television a few days ago, the illusionist’s work is of magical simplicity. Objects disappear, reappear, and levitate with such startling, real-world matter-of-factness that the wonder of these moments is all the more great. There is a concreteness to the show that excites the imagination.

This is Vitaly’s self-proclaimed goal – the fusion of reality and imagination – and the show’s tricks are nothing if not imaginative. There’s actually great beauty to many of the illusions, and part of our connection to what we see is our sense of Vitaly’s own creative passion for the images he creates. The show gives us Vitaly’s imagination without the effort of imagining; it allows us the spark of sudden inspiration and the wonder of realization in the same moment.

Vitaly is an eager stage presence, an appealingly awkward mix of careful scripting and the boyish imagination that informs his tricks. A parade of volunteers pass on and off the stage – throughout the show, Vitaly incorporates well over ten different audience members – and the illusionist’s banter with them is light and relaxed, until the tricks begin. Then, there’s a giddy impatience with the volunteers, with Vitaly seeming as excited to get to the next trick as the audience. After all, there are tons.

A 90-minute show, An Evening of Wonders is chock-full of magic. Vitaly may be a likable performer, but he’s not interested in extended bits of comedy or excessive talking – he’s there to create illusions. So he does, back to back to back.

A significant portion of the audience, I learned, was magicians. As far as performing in front of peers, I can’t imagine a more stressful occupation than illusionist…but throughout the show and afterwards, the audience seemed abuzz not with skepticism, but with genuine wonder – if, of course, a good deal of cheerful conjecture. Vitaly’s tricks are all-original, and whatever arcane and secret knowledge may be common to magicians, the illusions seemed to have been as complete for most as they were for me.

There’s a tendency to call our era the “seen-it-all” times. Visual miracles abound in our daily lives, resplendent in every TV spot for deodorant and at every Friday night movie. It’s hard to imagine that one man on a stage in East Vancouver could offer much that we haven’t seen.

But – with the help of our imaginations, and his – he does. The theatre screen is one thing. For the chance to see a moment of impossibility blossom five feet in front of you, though…try An Evening of Wonders.