Theater review: “Impossibilities” at NC Stage

Photo courtesy of Impossibilities

After seeing the show Impossibilities: An Intimate Evening of Magic, Mind Reading and Mayhem, I am firmly convinced that Asheville’s arts scene is missing exactly this type of show. A big tip of the magician’s hat to NC Stage Co. for bringing this dynamic duo and their warm, friendly and all around dazzling show to town.

Erik Dobell is the mentalist and Chris Collins is the magician. Together they blend their amiable personalities into a fun couple of hours, that, while seemingly innocent enough, are filled with mind-boggling tricks that leave the audience gasping in wonder. At the top of the evening, they take a large envelope with a question mark on it, suspend it out of reach, and promise there’s a big surprise at the end. From there, they launch into performances including card tricks (they seem simple enough, yet confound and amaze), to mind reading stunts that are so random, it is impossible to figure out how Dobell does it.

Audience members are a big part of the act, and least a dozen get pulled into the antics. The stars have a natural chemistry with each other, and a quick rapport with the audience. While the acts themselves are clearly well-honed and rehearsed, the interactions are fresh, lively and personable. The duo win the crowd over easily, from the outset.

Collins is part magician and part stand up comic. The joy he finds in performing is abundantly clear from his wide grin. Dobell is more of the straight man as his act is the brainier of the two, though he has plenty of wit and pizzazz. The combination of their personalities gives the show a nice balance.

The icing on the cake is the mystery envelope, which contains a list of things that have transpired throughout the evening that are so random that they could not have been predicted. Yet, every single detail is 100 percent accurate.

The grand finale follows a witty (though seriously delivered) narrative about the classic trick where a performer catches a bullet in his mouth, and the hazards of such a feat. Collins pulls an audience member up to help and with Dobell’s aid, they proceed to fire a paintball (on which the audience member has written her initials) at Collins’s head. I won’t spoil the surprise — I will only say that the outcome seems impossible, and yet it happened a few feet away from my very eyes.

Impossibilities is a limited engagement, running this weekend, Oct. 3-5 at NC Stage. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. $18-$22.

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About Jeff Messer
playwright, actor, director and producer, Jeff Messer has been most recently known as a popular radio talk show host. He has been a part of the WNC theatre scene for over 25 years, and actively works with and supports most of the theatres throughout the region. Follow me @jeffdouglasmess

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