Marc Salem's Mind Games Extra
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
June 5, 2006
If you're free one Monday night in June and have 25 dollars in your pocket, hasten over to Makor and buy yourself a ticket to Marc Salem's Mind Games Extra... and be astounded. Salem is probably America's foremost mentalist, and the things he does in his show—none of them involving "magic" or the supernatural, he's quick to point out—defy reason just the same. My favorite part of the show is watching the members of audience: you can't fake utter astonishment, and that's what each of them experiences as Salem tells them stuff that he couldn't possibly know, such as that the object they're thinking about right this minute is a bicycle, or that their vacation last year was in Sicily and involved a lot of wine-drinking. Mouths fly open, agape; eyes grow wide; friends and neighbors murmur in sheer surprise.
What's especially neat about Salem's current show is that it's a workshop, being presented in an intimate venue (the Screening Room on Makor's second floor; very comfy). Salem is trying out some new material here, and so each of his four June appearances promises to be a little different and a little edgier than his usual shows. Even better, because the room is small, the work is more close-up and personal: you can see and hear everybody else in the audience pretty clearly, and you will almost certainly get a chance to participate in one of the several eponymous "mind games" that Salem plays with the crowd. (Maybe more than one.)
For example, I got to choose which deck of cards Salem used in one of his new games, in which another gentleman from the audience stood to win a hundred-dollar bill if he failed to pick, from said deck, the same card that Salem had stowed away in his breast pocket. (He lost; Salem's good.) Later, I got to participate in one of Mind Games' standbys, as one of several folks who selected a random word from a paperback novel and then had Salem "read it" by concentrating on it, letter by letter.
And in the show's finale, I sent my wristwatch up on stage to be identified (correctly) by a blindfolded Salem, who then stopped and started the watch several times by waving his hand over it. (He's stopped my watch before, by the way; this stunt's absolutely for real. And by the way, by "blindfolded" what I really mean is that Salem has two half-dollars stuck over his eyes, secured by several strips of surgical tape and then covered by a black cloth, tied like a tourniquet at the back of his head.)
The coolest new piece involved four audience members who selected wallets at random, each of which contained a poker chip of the color Salem predicted. This game has lots of natural drama, and like all the others, demonstrates abilities that, Salem's protestations to the contrary, sure feel supernatural to me. I'm a Salem fan, catching his show whenever he's in town, and let me say that the mysteries of what he does only deepen with every viewing. I appreciate his "powers" and his grand showmanship more and more each time I watch him work.
So give yourself an evening unlike any other in the theatre and treat yourself to one of these semi-experimental, delightfully intimate editions of Mind Games Extra at Makor. And, as Salem's tag line puts it, lock up your thoughts!