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BWW Review: Sleight-Of-Hand Trickster Helder Guimaraes is Aces in VERSO

It takes a certain amount of moxie for a solo performer to begin his Off-Broadway show by looking into the audience and stating "I am weird."

Helder Guimaraes
(Photo: Joan Marcus)

Any self-respecting New York theatre audience member wears their weirdness like a badge of honor, and the qualifying bar is set at least as high as the arch of Washington Square Park, inside of which rebellious bohemians of a hundred years ago declared Greenwich Village to be an independent republic.

Illusionist and sleight-of-hand trickster Helder Guimaraes doesn't seem any weirder than someone you might find humming the tunes at a Yoko Ono retrospective or petitioning Feinstein's 54 Below for a STATE FAIR reunion concert, but he does have a likable low-key geekiness about him.

And since one expects to be baffled by seemingly miraculous feats that an artist of his caliber can concoct, personality and packaging becomes of vital importance when putting on a two-act Off-Broadway solo magic show.

Guimaraes was last seen on Manhattan boards three years ago, sharing the stage with fellow magician Derek DelGaudio in NOTHING TO HIDE, directed by Neil Patrick Harris.

Rodrigo Santos helms his one-man effort, Verso, an entertaining mix of routines where the star remarkably makes the right cards appear, the right audience members pop up and the right bits of information lead to jaw-dropping conclusions, all under seemingly the most random of circumstances.

Helder Guimaraes
(Photo: Joan Marcus)

Audience participants are at first chosen by tossing a stuffed toy animal around the house and during intermission anyone who would like to participate gets an opportunity. In a show like this, revealing much more would spoil the fun.

The trick here, though, is that Guimaraes never seems completely confident that what he's doing is going to work, and when he seems to have been foiled a couple of times, his imperfection adds to the illusion that everything else is real.

At two hours, the show does lose steam now and then, especially when Guimaraes philosophizes about different realms of reality and what is and isn't possible, but Verso is an engaging charmer providing good clean family fun.

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From This Author Michael Dale