Joshua Lozoff: Beyond Belief
Manbites Dog Theater
Through April 12
When can we believe what we see? This is the question that Durham magician Joshua Lozoff poses throughout his one-man show Beyond Belief, a revival of last year's sold-out run at Manbites Dog Theater. This year is proving no different—shows are sold out and an extra weekend was added to accommodate demand.
For good reason too. Lozoff is not only polished, intelligent and talented, but his charisma and playfulness engage audiences in addition to wowing them. In an article on modern magic from The New Yorker's March 17 issue, writer Adam Gopnik says the "sudden thrill" that magic gives audiences is a "feeling—if you're vulnerable to it—like no other feeling in the arts." Lozoff's successful combination of legerdemain and amiable enthusiasm puts his audience at ease, allowing us to enjoy his tricks and indulge his philosophical musings.
Lozoff several times cites Albert Einstein, such as, "He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed." Lozoff flavors his show with science references, and he extols Einstein's work with demonstrations inspired by quantum theory—popularized as the idea that there are connections in the world subtler than we imagine. To illustrate, Lozoff shows eerie connections between strangers, when random volunteers make near-psychic announcements. Part of Lozoff's appeal lies in the axiom of his first teacher: "You will not do magic. You will help people enjoy magic."
Beyond the science and philosophy is pure fun. Under the direction of Melissa Lozoff, a local theater pro and Joshua's wife, and the onstage help of his black lab Charlie and a small but spunky crew of helpers, Lozoff presents a well-rounded show, enriched by video ornaments, personal anecdotes and comedy. Such is the success of Lozoff's show that audiences leave under the spell of another of the proffered Einstein epigrams: "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."