Susan Granger’s review of “This Side of The Impossible” (NY Int’l Fringe Festival, Aug. 2015)
Sebastian Boswell III’s mentalism show made its New York premiere at the 2015 International Fringe Festival in front of an audience of about 70 in a tiny basement experimental theater space called Under Saint Marks in the East Village.
Proclaiming himself “world-renowned,” Boswell declares that he is not a magician; instead, he claims to possess extraordinary powers as a result of a lifetime of study and travel. He credits Edmond Chastbury’s old tome about Thought Transference, explaining how words and images float on air waves.
Professing disdain for Harry Houdini, he claims to have been present when Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel created “The Andalusian Dog,” which he depicts with surrealist sock puppets.
Enlisting audience participation, Boswell begins his somewhat retro routine with counting cards and drawing exercises before proceeding to the highly-anticipated demonstrations of telekinesis, clairvoyance and extra-sensory perception, as practiced throughout history by fakirs and mystics.
During one, he swallowed a pill upon which he’d written some numbers, telling the audience he intended to regurgitate it – and then removed it from his eye. He followed that by pounding a 4-inch nail into his nostril with a hammer – and then extracting it with a pair of pliers.
While Boswell previously won “Best in Fest” at the 2014 San Francisco Fringe Festival, his pompous persona is a bit off-putting. When a performer assumes such an outrageously flamboyant character, he must commit 100%, otherwise it looks like a caricature.
On the other hand, Boswell’s mental agility is amazing, as are his effects, although – at a mere 45-50 minutes – this show seems a trifle short for the effort it takes to attend a New York International Fringe Festival event.
The New York Fringe Festival runs until August 30. If you missed Sebastian Boswell III in Manhattan, you can catch him at the 2015 San Francisco Fringe in September, introducing a new show, entitled “The Ineffable Experience of Impossible Achievements.”