|Mentalist and magician Gary Ferrar
Mentalist and magician Gary Ferrar’s open-ended run and residency of Nothing Here is Real at The Cocktail Lounge Below Oxbow Tavern is not glitzy with Houdini like tricks of escape or Copperfield’s illusions, yet his parlor tricks, mind-reading and good-natured patter entertain his audience in an intimate speakeasy with tin-ceiling panels, bricked walls, velvet curtains and lounge chairs.
Ferrar, who does more than 300 performances each year on TV and at private and corporate events, creates an interactive show that includes a bit done on a 1942 Shatton Pool table. The premise of the production is to show that “nothing here is real,” and Ferrar reiterates this when he “mind reads” correctly, joking that he looked the information up on Facebook.
Many tricks elicit wonder from the audience – for instance, when a volunteer arbitrarily collects index cards handed out to audience members at the show’s start and reads them aloud in an cohesive narrative that (gasp!) even lists her name and sweater color. (Spoiler Alert – my friend was chosen for this and was asked her name when she took her card).
He’s best with his misdirection work — at one point a trick that focuses on the movement of a coin and ball is a set-up for “magically” moving a volunteer’s watch from his wrist.
Allegedly, the show is scripted — something Ferrar emphasizes throughout the performance. So he knows the answers beforehand, he intimates. He also is exceptionally good at reading people, analyzing their faces and body language. When a volunteer is asked to choose a drink from the menu, Ferrar looks for clues on its identity by asking the audience member to take a pretend swig and swallow the beverage. Of course, he guesses correctly and to emphasize the fact, he presents that same drink from a bag on the stage. Yep, he knew all along what the selection would be. So how does he do it? “Our choices have consequences that we cannot predict,” he says. “I influence those choices.”
While generally entertaining, some of his patter falls flat – a bit guessing cereal type becomes long-winded despite its surprises. Mostly, thought the show, directed by Harrison Kramer, a magician and educator, moves fluidly.
Performances take place every last Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at the Cocktail Lounge Below Tom Valenti’s Oxbow Tavern at 240 Columbus Ave. at West 71st St. Running time: 1 hour and 30 minutes. Tickets are $49 for adults and include two drinks. Available at garyferrar.com