Los Angeles Theater Review: GLITCHES IN REALITY (Hollywood Fringe Festival)

Post image for Los Angeles Theater Review: GLITCHES IN REALITY (Hollywood Fringe Festival)

by Jason Rohrer on June 12, 2015

in Theater-Los Angeles


In his latest one-hour act, Simon Coronel divides the world into three categories: people who want to know how a magic trick is done, people who don’t want to know, and people who don’t care. I’m in category two: I want the suspension of my disbelief to be total and continuous. I have no interest in learning magic tricks or in matching wits with a magician. But I did have a bit of a disagreement with this one after the show:

I asked him whether magicians had in them an inherent desire to fool people. He bristled at the idea that one could so generalize about any category of humanity. I disagree, especially when it comes to a chosen esoteric profession: generalizations are very useful for context, for shorthanding the big wide world into comprehensibility. That is a premise of Glitches in Reality and every magic show, in fact every drama and spectacle: since an audience’s perception is based on expectations that are almost always reliable, one can go far by subverting them. In fact one must.


Coronel would have none of it, cutting me off to say that what he personally wanted to do with his magic acts was to give the public the sort of amazement and wonder he had when he was first fascinated by the tricks that now, he admits, only interest him professionally. He was not particularly interested in me, turning away to chat up more fawning patrons several times during the after-show on Santa Monica Boulevard (where Coronel leads his audiences to look at a small collection of magic-act curiosities, and, cleverly, to get patrons to evacuate the theater so that the next Hollywood Fringe show may set up).

Well, it’s his job to talk to all the people afterward, not just one disputatious fellow. And I’m not known for my ability to charm all comers.


As under-an-hour cabaret magic acts go, Glitches is one of them. I am an unforgiving audience, easily distracted by an inner monologue, and I have a dilettante’s preciousness about illusion acts, and this one never transported me, though I was several times delighted and surprised. I expect on another night (for him and for me), Coronel might have wowed me.

simon3This man looks like a magician: his face has a chiseled bone structure, his eyebrows arch, his deep-set eyes glimmer impressively. He has stage presence, timing, an air of mystery, and small, extremely nimble hands. And many of his tricks are astounding.

“Many” might be a strong word: they aren’t all that numerous – perhaps twenty total, nicely bound by friendly yet patronizing patter describing the gap between perception and reality. There are a penetration move (quarter into bottle) and a couple of false-transfer prestidigitations (golf balls, coins) to begin the show, and some lovely production effects later on involving audience volunteers and a Pringles can. There’s a restoration gag involving scissors and paper; for some reason these always bore me, impossible as they appear. His mentalism, in which a locked box makes it seem that he has predicted from ahead of showtime the shout-outs from the crowd, is the most impressive to me, not least because of the improvisation Coronel displays in making up a story with those suggestions; but then, I’m a sucker for improv.

I was tired when the ten p.m. show began, and it may be projection on my part that Coronel seemed to lack pep, too. I may have imagined a weariness in his delivery of the lines he’s been perfecting over several festivals recently. It is not my imagination that it wasn’t a banner occasion for his diction. He stumbled over words several times, once or twice costing him a laugh line. This can unsuspend disbelief unpleasantly during a stage play; in an act like this one, an act requiring a knowing, active surrender from the audience, it can be fatal. It wasn’t. Coronel is seasoned, and even when he bobbled the closer (a reprise and expansion of the penetration effect) he never lost us, to the extent that he had us in the first place. And that depended largely on whether we were in category one, two or three.

photos courtesy of the production

Glitches in Reality
part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival
The Elephant Space
6322 Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood
ends on June 21, 2015
for tickets visit www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/2397

Leave a Comment