As the audience enters her venue, Ava Beaux appears to be incredibly sweet and welcoming, pulling over extra chairs to ensure that the sizable crowd who wish to see her show all manage to fit in the room. This is a comforting memory to cling to as The Mysterious Tales of Poe begins and Beaux’s eerie performance persona becomes increasingly unsettling. Beaux holds the audience’s attention from the moment she silently starts cutting up a balloon string. Her mesmerizing performance ensures that no one looks away even as the tricks get more macabre.
Nevertheless the audience feels a degree of safety, as all of Beaux’s creepiest effects and destructive impulses are focused on herself. She is kinder to the participants who she calls upon to help throughout the show. The magic itself is largely well performed. If the odd prop is visible before it is meant to be the audience hardly notice or care as they are caught up in the flow of Beaux’s interpretations of Poe’s stories.
This is where Beaux truly excels, in the interweaving her storytelling with her magic. Every trick supports the Poe stories that she narrates. Likewise, each story is perfectly chosen as being suitable to be told through magic and further her theme, so the magic never feels forced. The finale of her show is, however, entirely storytelling, and Beaux invites her audience to close their eyes to better appreciate Poe’s words, even at the expense of making her final reveal slightly anticlimactic. Seeing the majority of the audience follow this advice is a testament to the degree of trust that Beaux manages to build in spite of the frightening nature of her performance.
The theatricality of The Mysterious Tales of Poe broadens its appeal; audience members certainly don’t have to be fans of magic to enjoy it. On the other hand, those who are used to seeing magic performed as trick after trick with no unifying theme might gain a greater appreciation for the potential of magic when performed with Beaux’s creativity.