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THEATER REVIEW: “Elephant Room” puts a new twist on the magic show

In case you’re wondering, there is an elephant in “Elephant Room,” a goofy magic show playing through Sept. 16 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.

The show stars not one, not two but three magicians in a wide-ranging but unfocused performance that includes sketch comedy, choreography, country/western songs, audience participation and – oh, yes – some magic.

The conjurers, who perform under the names Dennis Diamond, Louis Magic and Daryl Hannah, all have bad wigs and false teeth and look like rejects from a high school talent show. The conceit is that a basement room from Paterson, N.J. has been brought west and propped up on cinderblocks in Culver City for a meeting of their Elephant Room Society.

“This is our secret room,” Louie says, “where we hide stuff.”

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen magicians dance, but director Paul Lazar (co-founder of Big Dance Theatre) can be credited with the hoofing done by this ragtag bunch.

Their magic is mostly of the now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t variety. In the best bit, an egg magically moves from one hand to another of their cumulative six, then Diamond produces a second egg and makes an omelet in a pan with no visible heat source. He also has a creative way of grating cheese into the omelet.

Later, milk is made to flow from a most unlikely vessel.

The magic is mildly amusing, but what’s lacking in this piece (commissioned by the Center Theatre Group) is coherence. The egg bit is overwhelmed by less funny but more extended pieces: a too-long piece about tying a tourniquet; something that sounds like a phone-sex call to the Dalai Lama; a pretty recruit stuck in a jejune first-date scenario with Hannah.

San Diego audiences have seen Diamond and Hannah (aka Geoff Sobelle and UCSD MFA Trey Lyford) at La Jolla Playhouse in their more engaging, if oddball homage to clowns of the past, “all wear bowlers.”

It’s not clear whether this trio wants to honor or mock their craft. In some ways, they are reminiscent of what Renaissance audiences encountered from street performers, but most modern audiences have shorter attention spans and are less likely to remain attentive to the meandering hodgepodge of this show.

Oh. That elephant? I’ll leave you to discover it.

The details

“Elephant Room” plays through Sept. 16 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City.

Tuesday through Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 1 and 6:30 pm.

For tickets, call 213-628-2772 or visit HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.