The Melbourne International Arts Festival is in full swing, with another diverse calendar of programming. Thought provoking theatre? Check. Dynamic dance? Check. Experimental music? Check. A mentalist creating seemingly impossible experiences inside a mirrored tent? Check. The last item on that list is Wonders – a production that’s been capturing audiences’ imaginations across the globe.
The show is well timed for audiences looking to add a bit of Halloween mystery to their month of October. Upon entering the Spiegeltent, we were greeted by the sight of a large leather chair, a shiny gramophone, burning candles, and whiffs of smoke. The aesthetic is a cross between steampunk and grandma’s attic.
Twenty eight year old Scott Silvin is at the helm and if he’s nervous his bold illusions won’t land, it doesn’t show. He is a master of his craft and his performance is smooth, clever, and polished. Silvin invites audiences to journey into their own memories, while simultaneously creating a collective experience. The entire show relies on audience participation. But not to worry – the participation is gentle and, dare I say, makes the entire experience a lot more engaging.
The production appears to be a cross between mind reading, illusion, and hypnosis. Though in reality, I still don’t understand how Silvin managed to orchestrate his impressive tricks and weave all the elements of his show together. (But it’s all the more captivating to willingly take a journey into the unknown.)
Wonders feels like both a personal journey into the subconscious and a shared experience with strangers. Silvin’s style clearly resonates with audiences – 2019 started with an extended NYC run before touring to sold out houses in London, Berlin, and Toronto. And patrons filled every seat in the Spiegeltent on the afternoon we attended. A group of women sitting behind us also paid $400 apiece for tickets to The Illusionist Table (another production by Silvin running during the festival). They fervently assured us the memorable feast was worth every dollar.
I will admit Wonder’s timing was a bit odd, with performances scheduled on weekends at 2pm and 5pm. The show’s mysterious, other worldly nature seemed better suited to a midnight rendezvous, rather than a sunny Sunday session. Despite that, it was certainly one of the more interesting afternoons I’ve experienced in quite some time.
Jenny Schmidt is an event adventurer. When she’s not attending live shows, you can find her sampling the latest craft beer or sipping a creative cocktail.
Wonders runs through 20 October 2019 as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival at The Famous Spiegeltent, Arts Centre Melbourne Forecourt. Buy tickets now.