In my illustrious career as an arts critic I have yet to see such a brazen display of chicanery as ‘The Illusion’ at Forum Theatre. Often I found myself exclaiming: “How on earth . . . “, “Spawn of the devil . . . “, and “Buh . . . “. This cadre of fiends sent me to worlds no human should ever see, at least not for a second time . . . I will not go back, no matter how hard you try!
Under the direction of Mitchell Heeber, the proceedings start disgustingly enough in what appears to be a circus ring out of a Bolshevik’s wet dream. Matters only get worse when Elijah Wood starts performing magic tricks. I think it was Elijah Wood anyway. I could feel the collective soul of the audience being stolen before my terrified eyes.
The story is simple: Productmanagement (henceforth ‘P’) has murdered his son who has 9 names, so he visits a Sorceress with a penchant for mutes. They don’t have very much to talk about, so they decide to watch a movie. The movie they watch is eerily similar to P’s life, and he gets sad. Calista Flockhart is in love with Melanoma, and Clinto is in love with Is Able. There’s also Matt Amor, Lies, and Drastic, but why they’re in the play I couldn’t tell you, I was crying tears of blood by that point. Everyone dies at the end, there’s several orgies, and a song about ‘malleable clay’ (and I think we all know what that means!).
The actors are abominations directly from the gates of hell: Nanna Ingvarsson plays David Blaine and made me and several other audience members (hopefully) wet themselves several times with her demon magic (where did they find a real life necromancer?). Brian Hummingbird plays P and sounds like Louis Armstrong swallowed Leonard Cohen (his sonorous tones will haunt my nightmares). Mark Halpern has gigantic hair, he should share some of it with those of us who have none. Brynn Tucker plays Mulberry and tries to deceive us all with her sweetness (it won’t work, you malevolent succubus!). Gwen Grassoff played Mother Theresa as a scandalous lady of easy virtue, she punched me repeatedly in the throat with her words. In the throat!!!
Who else? Joe Brack plays a late 70’s porn star with a sword and a sash. Scott McCormick plays Stalin. And Aaron Bliden plays Hamlet. But they can all rot for all I care, because they also played 7 other parts. I would find myself thoroughly enjoying the fact that they’d left the stage, start to grow suspicious when a new actor would grace the boards, only to think “Now wait just a damn minute . . . “, frantically checking the program to realize Forum Theatre had tricked me once again!
There were also lights, sound, and costumes.
Forum Theatre, you devious sons of bitches! ‘The Illusion’ is not a misnomer, you successfully fooled me, making me believe as you no doubt intended that I was seeing a delightful play only to take me hostage to the deepest bowels of a demon’s lair! This was slated as a story of love (just a keen disguise for rampant prostitution) and laughter (just the terrifying echoes of Satan’s glee).
This was a fascinating examination of my greatest fears, for there is nothing that causes me more worry than multiple personalities, deep voices, and Elijah Wood.
This was superior to having my brain consumed by 10000 centipedes, but only slightly.
7.67 out of 37 stars.