Last Sunday afternoon on West 22nd Street there was a hint of recovery for the dying one-man magic show. Drawing room conjuring the full-length performance of close-up effects and cabaret illusions is not quite dead; it may be comatose, it may be on the feeding tube, but Eric DeCamps was determined to show that it was not quite dead yet.
DeCamps played to a sold-out Metropolitan Room for the closing performance of his second one-man show Pure Magic and brought the house to its feet in ovation, proving that the spirit and style of vaudevillian magic is still alive in New York City. From the moment DeCamps stepped up on stage he fulfilled the promise that Tony Award-winning lighting designer and producer Jules Fisher had made in his introduction: the audience would be entertained and nonplussed by astounding feats of pure sleight-of-hand. With nothing but ordinary objects such as coins, tumblers, cards, paper, rope, eggs and flash paper, DeCamps enthralled the motley New York crowd. And unlike many cabaret acts, the audience from the front row to the back row, from one wing to the other was involved throughout the show. DeCamps, a skilled close-up performer of the highest caliber, successfully extended his intimate, close-up style, playing to and with what was an audience of active participants. The highlight of this extension was his interpretation of Rene Lavands Bread Crumbs effect (which DeCamps learned from the Maestro himself). DeCamps, after inviting a representative on stage to bear witness and contribute, performed this piece elegantly . . . with one hand; the poetic conclusion brought literal tears to my neighbors eyes.
The show was not without surprises for DeCamps himself, however. One card effect, though inexplicable as to method, fell victim to an audient locking up (or was it heckling up?) and missing a very simple direction: Sir, name a large, even number from one to fifty two. . . . Ten! was his answer. Such snags come with the territory when a performer extends close-up performance principles to a larger audience, but DeCamps played it off well, light-heartedly and humorously. And the minor snafu was forgotten once DeCamps floored the audience with the following piece, a truly impossible version of the Ambitious Card; and perhaps even a few strong items were forgotten in the shadow of a mind-blowing demonstration of the Egg and Bag.
The performance must have been a nice wrap-up for the performers successful run at the Metropolitan Room. It was tight, well constructed and well directed by Bob Fitch. Now one can only hope that DeCamps executes CPR once again on this dying art form next season.