The team at The Geffen Playhouse refused to remain closed during the pandemic. They were one of the first theatre’s in the United States to creatively offer virtual interactive performances, renaming themselves during the pandemic“Geffen Stayhouse, Theater at Home.”
Covid-weary theatre fans reverently purchased tickets in record-breaking numbers, selling out shows in minutes.
Their first show in May 2020, THE PRESENT by card master and performer Helder Guimarães was a huge success. Under the direction of film producer Frank Marshall, who also directed Guimarães’ pre-pandemic show at the Geffen, Invisible Tango, Geffen patrons were familiar with this talented director and performer, so they fervently have been purchasing tickets to the duo’s new World Premiere of THE FUTURE.
To me, watching Guimarães is like watching Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance as Beth Harmon in miniseries The Queen’s Gambit. He wins every time and always amazes his audience.
THE FUTURE is his newest interactive at-home illusion show, where ticket purchasers receive a package in the mail containing Zoom instructions and items to enhance the theatrical experience. This time a long back cylinder with a sticker stating, “Please Do Not Open Until Performance” lends an air of mystery and intrigue.
Part of the “Stayhouse” fun is checking in at least 15 minutes early with House Managers Amir and Mel. As the 25 audience members appear onscreen, they comment on the attendees who have dogs featured on their frame. Many of us to “ooh and say adorable” lending a community feel. Also while in the waiting area before the show, the screen offered a variety of trivia questions that included “What year was the Geffen Playhouse founded and when was the historic theatre constructed?” Answers appear to check to see if you guessed correctly.
Not to give too much of Guimarães’ THE FUTURE storyline away, but he takes his audience on a personal journey that is different than any of his other shows. He doesn’t stay still on one set, as he shares a tale of when he was 14 year’s old and met a reformed gambling man named “Kevin”. Living in Marseille, this card shark agrees to meet with the impressionable young Helder, and teaches him a few slight of hand secrets. Then we invites him to a real poker game to teach him an important lesson about friendship.
We follow Guimarães from his apartment, to a high-stakes poker salon and a cozy pub in the south of France. Not only is Guimarães one of the best slight of hand magicians, he also is an engaging storyteller. One question he poses to the audience is that, “if your were a cheater in poker, would you be a dealer or player?”
While exploring the seedy underbelly of the gambling world, participants decide which version of events they prefer to see by voting and the majority vote rules. The intriguing story is as much about the viewer as it is about Guimarães.
He opens the show stating, “A great way to focus on The Present is The Future,” a nice tie-in to both of his shows. Throughout the show he selects one viewer at a time to participate, and then that viewer selects another viewer to help with Guimarães next illusion.
When we finally were allowed to open our cylinder, we took out items as instructed and followed his directions. After each trick, there was always a chorus of “Wow, how did he do that” by many of the viewers. These items enhance the interactive experience during the 80 minute show.
Guimarães urges the audience to “appreciate the little things, it’s what separates you from others” and at the end, a blue envelope inside the cylinder ties in the beginning of his story to the ending, leaving everyone touched and applauding.
The Future gives you insight to make a decision for the greater good. Hopefully in 2021 we will all be able to step inside The Geffen Playhouse and other theaters again, until it’s safe, Guimarães gives us hope for THE FUTURE.
WORLD PREMIERE THE FUTURE
Written and Performed by Helder Guimarães
Directed by Frank Marshall
Previews: Friday, December 4 – Thursday, December 10
Opening Night: Friday, December 11
Closing Night: Sunday, March 14, 2021
Monday No performance
Tuesday 8:00 p.m. PT
Wednesday 8:00 p.m. PT
Thursday 8:00 p.m. PT
Friday 8:00 p.m. PT
Saturday 2:00 and 8:00 p.m. PT
Sunday 1:00 and 7:00 p.m. PT
Running Time: 80 minutes with no intermission
Tickets are currently priced at $95 per household. Available by phone at 310.208.2028 or online at www.geffenplayhouse.org. Fees may apply.
The Geffen also has two other live interactive shows running simultaneously: Inside the Box, starring magician/puzzler David Kwong, and Citizen Detective, a virtual murder mystery. Geffen Playhouse’s hit 2018 production Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was filmed for on-demand viewing by On The Stage streaming and is available to watch now. Future shows include Bollywood Kitchen starting on Jan. 15, 2021.