Posted by: strugglesome | September 10, 2011

Wecome To The Jungle: Dennis Diamond, Louie Magic and Daryl Hannah Present Elephant Room

Rule number one in magic? Don’t call it a trick. As the great magician Gob Bluth once said, “Trick is something a whore does for money”. Wise words from a wise man. But illusion or not, the truth is, whatever a magician does, it’s some kind of deceit. But instead of feeling cheated or betrayed, we are thrilled, we can’t wait to participate in said deception, we actively participate in being tricked. It’s probably the only time in our lives that we legitimately want to feel cheated. And we actually get upset if the deception isn’t successful! It’s rather bizarre, if you think about it, how committed we are to being deceived artfully. But then, what else is theater, if not a beautifully executed deception that feels more real than reality?

And speaking of graceful artful deception, let us now come to the latest offering from Rainpan 43 members Geoffe Sobelle and Trey Lyford with new collaborator Steve Cuiffo (i.e. my future husband, seriously, CALL ME), Elephant RoomAnd what a room it is! Lit with candy colored beams (lighting by Christopher Kuhl) and staged in an aquamarine living room held up with cement blocks and scored with Bavarian mustard curtains and furniture and a deliciously ugly picture of a sunset (courtesy of set designer Mimi Lien) Elephant Room is primarily a magic show (or is it) starring three alter-egos. Dennis Diamond (Geoffe Sobelle) is a flamboyant and eyebrow arched conjurer, Darly Hannah (Trey Lyford) is full of bravado but lonely in the love department, and Louie Magic (Steve Cuiffo) is a pretty straight up man’s-man magician. And together, they are a well choreographed (thanks to David Neumann) expertly timed machine, gyrating to power-80’s tunes (delightfully campy sound by Nick Kourtides) and blowing our minds. Hilariously. Because if only a really good actor can pretend to be a really bad actor, then only a really good magician can pretend to be a halfway decent, back alley, middle of nowhere going nowhere fast magician. And as the audience is assured within the first few moments of this show (and show is the only word for it, as in, what a show!) “In this room the floor is a parking space where you will always find a place”.

And so begins the evening of magic and showmanship. Eggs move from hand to hand, person to person, until they become omelets. Literally. Spectators are pulled onstage, included in the act, and then discussed for the rest of the evening. Kool aid comes and goes. The Dali Llama is called (and he sounds delightful). Aerosmith montages…happen. But these are just the magic tricks. Because the truth is that information is disseminated around the stage like clues, making up a muddled treasure map leading us, to, well, who really knows? We find out about Daryl’s troubled marriage and addiction to alcohol. We briefly consider Dennis’ sexuality and penchant for slick Chinese brocaded jackets (he really runs in and out of that closet there, costumes by Christal Weatherly). And we take a brief tour of child abuse and neglect with Louie, whose love of the electric saw is only equaled by his rocking fashion sense. All together they work as an intricate and well crafted machine, but individually, well, these guys, these guys may be a bit of a mess.

Because here’s the real deal. Who spends their lives deceiving the world if they don’t have something to hide? Who chose a career in trickery if they could live comfortably in honestly? Obviously someone with something to hide. But that’s the trouble with elephants, isn’t it? It’s like giving someone an umbrella as a gift. No matter how well you wrap it, you know what’s there. It’s impossible to disguise an elephant. As soon as you expect it, you spend the whole show looking for it. And when it does come, it arrives at a moment in which the show has transformed itself from comedic magic show to surreal cabinet of wonders. Funny can transform itself to creepy much quicker then one might expect, and that seems to be exactly the point with this show, it walks that well neigh perforated line between humorous and disturbing that marks all good magicians. And if we might want more sentiment between all the pizzazz, more heart beneath the trickery, well, there is something rather touching about the hollowness of the action, the lack of sentiment in the work. We can fill in the gaps, really, between each magic trick, it’s the price we pay for being audience members (besides the rather exorbitant Live Arts Festival ticket prices, that is.)

And of course Sobelle, Lyford and Cuiffo discharge it as excellently as one might have expected them to. They are such polished performances that you can’t actually decide what is funnier, the jokes they’ve planned or the jokes that come from mistakes. When Sobelle’s spirit gum fails him and his mustache wont stay on, does he stutter? Does he wince? No, he simply includes it in the act, setting it gently to the side and tolerating the confetti flakes stuck to the sticky residue like the professional he is. After all, you can never let the truth get in the way of a good story, now, can you? I doubt very much that the elephant wouldn’t approve, really.Though of course, they never forget.

Elephant Room runs through the 17th of September at Plays and Players Theater. Tickets are available here.

Comments? Questions? Concerns? I welcome them all! Please feel free to comment below!


  1. I saw the show. it was great. Who was the artist for the music they played during the scene where Dennis dances with the fan? Is it Ray Lynch – Deep Breakfast?

    • I honestly don’t know! But I will do my best to find out!

      • Ug, I couldn’t place it either, altho I knew I had heard it before. Was thinking Deep Breakfast as well, but just listened to it again and while it’s very similar it wasn’t it…

  2. […] “…walks that well neigh perforated line between humorous and disturbing that marks all good magicians.” – Staged […]

  3. […] “…walks that well neigh perforated line between humorous and disturbing that marks all good magicians.” – Staged […]

  4. Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful post. Thank you for supplying this info.

  5. Spot on with this write-up, I honestly feel this website needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the info!

  6. It’s magic until you know the secret… then it’s just a trick. Personally… I prefer magic!

  7. […] “…walks that well neigh perforated line between humorous and disturbing that marks all good magicians.” – Staged […]

  8. […] “…walks that well neigh perforated line between humorous and disturbing that marks all good magicians.” – Staged […]

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