Los Angeles Theater Review: DAVID AND LEEMAN (Magic Castle)

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by Tony Frankel on October 6, 2014

in Theater-Los Angeles


From Vegas extravaganzas to intimate parlors, my favorite magicians are those with personality and humor. Even when tricks are well-rehearsed and mindboggling, slick illusionists tend to omit the magic that comes from a rapport with the audience. Regardless of impressive sleight-of-hand or how many animals emerge from a coat Magicians DAVID AND LEEMANpocket, the repetitive nature of most magic shows can be enervating with trick/applause, trick/applause, trick/applause. There’s nothing sadder than a prestidigitator who must raise one eyebrow over their forehead with a demonic glare to indicate its time to applaud.

As if to prove my point, the young duo David and Leeman reappeared at The Magic Castle recently with their now trademark blend of astounding wiles, self-effacing badinage, and unpretentious but mindboggling legerdemain. I took advantage with my admittance to this members-only club to bop from room to room, catching five other acts. While each magician that night flawlessly demonstrated their skills in mind-reading or card tricks, there was often a strange lack of personality, which led to a disconnect with the audience; in some cases, the odd directions to volunteer patrons made audience interaction positively uncomfortable.


Not so with D&L, who had just returned to L.A. from being one of the top 12 finalists on America’s Got Talent (another magician, Mat Franco, eventually took the top prize). The boys came home—where David Blatter is a high school philosophy teacher, and Leeman Parker a barista—to headline in the Castle’s Palace of Mystery room. Their winning combination of teenage enthusiasm, topical allusions (including religion and race), loving rapport, and very funny shtick (occasionally off-color and flippant) reminded me of The Smothers Brothers, although neither one plays fool to the other’s straight man.

David and Leeman with Howie Mandel on AMERICA'S GOT TALENT.

I caught their last two shows at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, so this is no fluke: These boys (in their late twenties, actually) leave their audiences positively giddy. They can stretch a 30-second trick to 10 minutes and nobody cares because we’re too busy having fun. They’re still refining improv skills and some of the patter, but unpretentious and never forced, their intention is not to impress—although they continually do so—but to see that we leave happy. It’s pretty magical finding that these days.

DAVID AND LEEMANphotos courtesy David and Leeman

David and Leeman
The Magic Castle in Hollywood
ended on September 21, 2014
for future fun, visit www.davidandleeman.com

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