Wonders at Dusk is not just a magic show; it is a magical experience. Scott Smith does not define himself; he does not say, ‘I am a magician, here are the tricks I am going to do for you’. That potential for disconnection from the wonder is not even extended to us as an option. Instead, the entire performance is an immersion into the impossible.
Undoubtedly, the reason so many magicians will regale their audiences with tales of their childhoods is to try and connect us to a memory of wonder. To speak of their own youths, and thus remind us of ours, predisposes us to being a bit more open minded – a bit more willing to suspend disbelief. Scott Smith is only one example of a magician making this artistic choice, but it is arguable that he is the best example of it being done smoothly and artfully. He weaves for us a memory from his childhood, and allows his illusions to develop naturally and gracefully from this narrative.
This is a mind-reading show, so requires audience interaction in order to exist. But while a less polished performer could lose the ambience here with the awkwardness of audience members, Smith expertly keeps it in hand. While seeing other people being made to participate is always inherently funny, Smith keeps it utterly respectful and never embarrasses his participants, which maintains the air of elegance that permeates the show.
His talents for mind-reading are scarily good, which I can attest for personally as a participant. Smith ‘read’ from my mind the name of an object that I had only decided upon at the last second, that I had scribbled on my paper at the last second, and that I had carefully hidden from his eyes. The same skill was used to pick equally hidden words and images from the minds of several other audience members.
As Smith noted by nature of the object I chose, I am a skeptic. And by nature of being a magic reviewer, I have good reason to be. But even considering this, Smith’s illusions of mind-reading, placed in the atmosphere that he creates with his set and compelling words, will have even the most ardent of doubters eager to believe.