Maggie McKay Reviews 'Invisible Tango' at the Geffen Playhouse

May 23, 2019

If you are a skeptic or don't believe in magic, this show,  in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater could possibly change your mind or at least get you thinking another way.  Magic sensation Helder Guimaraes returns to the Geffen Playhouse with the world premiere his one-man show Invisible Tango now playing now through June 30th. Helder is a master of sleight-of-hand magic whose work has been featured at the Kennedy Center, TED Talks and Off-Broadway productions.

Helder says "We need moments of unknown and uncertainty to guide our next meaningful step. He adds that "the eternal quest for enlightenment starts with questions, not answers". He connects the audience with interactive tasks during his card "tricks" or illusions. It's all about mystery and not necessarily ​finding the answer.  The audience was visibly in awe, many involuntarily gasping "whaaaaaaaaaaat?" during several mind-bending scenes.

There are times during this unique performance when you are positive of the outcome only to find no, it's actually a very different result.  He doesn't take himself so seriously, throughout there is definitely suspense but there is also so much laughter and joy.  Helder nails the balance between humor, mystery and the unknown through his storytelling that is interwoven during the night. I loved that there was no intermission to break up the suspense and momentum.  The ushers ever warn that if you need to leave you won't be able to rejoin (probably because it would be too disruptive).  The mystery of it all is humbling, especially if you usually think you can figure out card shuffling or how in the world Helder could have predicted someone's name who he'd never met.  Sometimes during the night you just have to surrender and accept that there will be parts you can see but not process.

It is directed by Frank Marshall of Indiana Jones fame, Back to the Future, Seabiscuit, The Color Purple, and the Jason Bourne series, among several others. 

It's no coincidence that Marshall is also an amateur magician since he was ten. He is currently directing Too Much Heaven,  a documentary about the Bee Gees and he is producing Diana, a musical based on the life of The Princess of Wales (which had its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse in March). Everything about this performance is world class including the original music by Moby, who has sold more than  20 million records worldwide while also producing and remixing scores for other artists. 

I found Invisible Tango refreshing because it takes you out of your everyday humdrum and transports your mind and eyes and what you THINK you are seeing to new places or at least new considerations. This may be in part because I had no expectations, didn't know what it was about or how the evening would go but there were surprises you didn't see coming at several turns. The setting is like you are in someone's living room plus it's very intimate in that every seat can easily see Helder and his hands as he is arm's length from the front row. Invisible Tango was more than entertainment, it got the room thinking with a different perspective not just in the illusions but in everyday life in general and in our surroundings. 

The show runs through June 30th.

It is 80 minutes with no intermission.

There is no photography or filming of any kind allowed in the theater.

To find out more or to get tickets go to: geffenplayhouse.org