Best Production from an Out-of-town Company Miami 2013 - Death and Harry Houdini
The crux of Death and Harry Houdini is the titular magician's lifelong battle with death — his perpetual desire to cheat his demise. But beyond that, nothing about the story of this visiting production from the House Theatre of Chicago sticks out. The dialogue and thinly explored romance certainly won't win any awards. But what does impress is the spectacle. The House Theatre specializes in stylized, innovative theatrical experiments, where sound and design elements break new ground. Death and Harry Houdini, which launched the company in 2001 and is continually revived by popular demand, epitomizes its MO. It was a genuine magic show as much as a play, with Dennis Watkins, as Houdini, performing both close-up tricks and ambitious feats, from walking barefoot on a stream of broken glass to escaping a locked straitjacket, swallowing razor blades, and dangling in a booth of water. Video projection, smoke machines, stilt walkers, inspired choreography, colorful costumes, and fun audience participation further cemented an unforgettable sensorial experience.