Cardone's magic and spookshow at the Canal Park Playhouse, playing every Tuesday until April 17th, is an intimate, weird, and funny romp for just about everyone (except very young kids), especially the last 10 minutes, when the lights die and the ghosts come alive.
Wiry, long-haired, with a moustache that will never reach adulthood, Cardone is a charge of energy as he flamboozles his audience with illusions and a cheeky, Coney Island Barker style of showmanship as he entertains with magic, a straitjacket escape, and blackout spooks that are quite creepy. With a warning to leave before being locked in with the ghosts, the audience stayed in their seats except for one young boy who first tried moving from the front row, then zipped up his coat hood to hide away in, then, not getting much sympathy from his parents, left the small theater to wait outside.
But before those 10 minutes of pitch black filled with ghastly apparitions comes, done in all seriousness--or as much seriousness a 1950s spookshow would generate, of course--there's the intimidating guillotine, the television of the future, Elvis's sunglasses, razors to be swallowed, and a short intermission involving dirt from Dracula's Castle--no, not that one but the real Dracula's Castle--and assorted pass-around oddities to examine.
The straitjacket escape is done (magicians, take note) with a Posey regulation jacket, the proper size (yes, straitjackets have sizes) to fit Cardone snugly. This is the real one, ungimmicked, although being a slick magician, Cardone knows a trick or two on how to get out of it. The only quibble I have with his performance here is his explanation of the most commonly used gimmicked straitjackets. This is probably the one time in the show he's actually telling the truth. For the sake of amateur magicians everywhere, I hope no one believed him.
Some of you may remember the intimacy of Imam's Magic Cafe in Greenwich Village. That same intimacy of a live performance happening a few feet away from you is captured in the Canal Park Playhouse. And there are waffles! With real maple syrup.
Perhaps the most bizarre and funniest moment is reached when Cardone uses the help of a spirit, caught in a plastic jar filled with greenbacks, to devine an audience member's selected card; then again, there's the appropriate song Cardone sings--rather well--while sticking his head in the guillotine.
That was also pretty unusual, for an already unusual show you shouldn't miss.