BWW Review: CONNECTION Is Brain-Bending Mentalism With A Lot Of Heart
For a different kind of night out, look no further than Beyond Mental Borders and their collection of mental tests. Comprised of Toronto-based mentalists Armand Antony and Alexandra Brynn, CONNECTION takes the traditional approach to magic and modifies it for a modern audience. Over the course of their act, Brynn and Antony lead several tests centered on mind reading - which, as the pair explain at the very start of their show - isn't real, but that doesn't mean the performance isn't a whole lot of fun.
Rather than supernatural abilities, Antony and Brynn utilize psychology, body language, and influential actions to get in their volunteer's heads. Because it's not an exact science, and because they have no way to determine who'll be up on stage with them, there's room for error. To paraphrase the duo, "if we were perfect one-hundred percent of the time, we wouldn't be performing - we would have won the lottery by now," which is honestly very fair and something I, too, would do.
Even when they didn't get the right answer during one of the tests in the October 20 show, their talent through the rest of the evening was spot-on. Even with knowing that what they're doing is calculated and the result of months of practice, Antony and Brynn pull off a ton of tests that have me questioning how they pulled it off a couple days later. There's an act involving a book club that seems staged but isn't, and a piece that bookends the set that works when there is no viable explanation from the audience's point of view; both will have you questioning what your own tells are and trying to read the volunteers onstage with as much - if not more - intensity than the actual mentalists.
Regardless of whether you're a skeptic or not, CONNECTION is about more than just completing test after test; Antony and Brynn have clearly taken the time to craft something that's unique to their skills and personalities, and it shows. The two work great together on stage, even though they spend a good deal of the evening jokingly bickering. It seems like where some magicians might fall into the stereotypical personality traits of the industry, Antony and Brynn are very comfortable being themselves on stage.
CONNECTION is, at its core, a refreshing take on a genre of live entertainment that doesn't get as much attention as others. Antony and Brynn are entertaining throughout, and command the room in a personable, relaxed manner - and this balance between approachability and sheer skill makes CONNECTION a great cornerstone of Toronto's magic scene, and definitely something to check out whether you've never seen a live magic show before or if you're a lifelong lover of the inexplicable.
Beyond Mental Borders' CONNECTION runs monthly at The Rec Room, 255 Bremner Blvd., Toronto, ON.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.beyondmentalborders.com/tickets
Photo courtesy of Beyond Mental Borders