Scott Silven’s “Wonders at Dusk” is aptly named, not just for the literal time at which it occurs but also for the thematic progression of the show itself. Silven’s opening remarks about his childhood struggle to pinpoint the moment at which dusk turns in to the proper darkness of night draft a verbal blueprint for the evening. The audience is drawn in by Silven’s autobiographical stories and gradually captivated by his mind reading powers, ultimately leaving the venue spellbound and in wonder at his skills.
This act is not entirely a magic show, but also includes elements of storytelling, as previously mentioned, and also Silven’s interesting take on mindfulness meditation. At various points in the evening, Silven encourages the audience to be present in the moment, likening time spent as his audience to a detour on the path of life. His act quickly becomes very relaxing. Unlike the vaguely threatening kind of relaxation common in hypnotism shows, in which the performer asks the audience to give up conscious control of their bodies, this is a much nicer relaxation, in which Silven simply asks that the audience soften the boundaries between their conscious and subconscious thoughts. Such a lowering of these boundaries will, says Silven, allow individuals in the audience to connect with each other in a manner conducive to their reception of his mentalist magic.
The magical elements of the show are similarly remarkable. Silven repeatedly correctly deduces information generated by the audience, always with safeguards to demonstrate the veracity of his magic. Hidden envelopes and pouches placed throughout the room prior to the audience’s arrival are proof to assure the audience that Silven predicted their responses before he had even seen the evening’s crowd. These hiding spots add an extra layer of whimsy to the evening, as Silven directs audience members on a hunt through his props, or climbs on top of furniture, to collect the evidence of his powers of prediction.
Silven’s “Wonders at Dusk” is indeed a wonderful show to experience. Its pacing and theme make for a calming end to the typically hectic day at the Fringe. At the same time, the magic is exciting to watch, with the final illusion in particular leaving the audience in amazement. We leave knowing that, just as surely as the dusk has become night, Silven’s uplifting magic has stolen over the evening and left its distinct impression on our minds.