Theater Review: THE HOPE THEORY (Geffen Playhouse)

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by Shari Barrett on May 4, 2024

in Theater-Los Angeles

— Aristotle

Close-up magic by master illusionist, storyteller and seeming mind-reader Helder Guimarães is mesmerizing and dazzling in The Hope Theory, an 80-minute wonderment which opened last Friday. This is his fourth collaboration with EGOT award-winning director/producer Frank Marshall at Geffen Playhouse in Westwood (Invisible Tango, The Present streamed during the shutdown; The Future. This is an entirely new theatrical event, and I guarantee you’ll be blown away by the astounding eye-trickery as you question what you just witnessed.

It’s not all magic. Guimarães offers a unique perspective on America, international political oppression, and the universal desire for freedom through the eyes of an optimistic outsider — a Portuguese immigrant who arrived in America at age 29. Wide-eyed and full of ideas, he soon discovered people do not always tell the truth or keep their promises, jobs are difficult to find, and the combination of cultural and professional challenges seemed to block his ambition to create a viable living doing what he loved so he could build a home for his future wife and family.

While I would love to tell you about the incredible bafflements, saying more will spoil the surprises and fun during this astounding world premiere. What I will say is that the constant “what?” frequently uttered by audience members attested to the skill with which Guimarães completed extraordinary illusions, even when blindfolded!

When you arrive, you will be given a number from which participants are selected to take part in many of the illusions both onstage and from your seat. And there will be no hiding when your number is called, so be prepared to play your part, whether called upon to name a card, examine a prop for its authenticity, or join Guimarães onstage as a participant. Whether you get called upon or not, you won’t regret being part of this ultimate excursion into the unbelievable.

Kudos for the entire creative team and helpful Geffen staff, each of whom created a very welcoming atmosphere from the moment I stepped into the theater. Please do not miss this enthralling production so you can experience all the mind-challenging amazements and astonishments.

photos by Jeff Lorch
poster photo by Justin Bettman

The Hope Theory
Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater
Geffen Playhouse, 10866 Le Conte Avenue in Westwood
Wed-Fri at 8; Sat at 3 & 8; Sun at 2 & 7
three shows performed in Spanish as La Teoría de la Esperanza
ends on June 30, 2024
for tickets ($30 – $129), call 310.208.5454 or visit Geffen Playhouse
rush tix ($35 General/$15 Student) one hour before showtime at the box office

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