REVIEWSTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Magic Play

In a World Premiere.

By Andrew Hinderaker.

Directed by Halena Kays.

At the Goodman Theatre’s Owen Stage, Chicago.

Captivating magic tricks mesmerizes the audience.

The Magic Play by Andrew Hinderaker, now in a world premiere at the Goodman Theatre is both a magic show and a drama. Owing to the magic skills with deft acting, Brett Schneider plays a rising young magician who takes the stage hours after his lover-boyfriend has left him. After being extremely impressed by Schneider’s opening card tricks (nicely projected on a large screen), the magician’s acts starts to unravel, illuminating his offstage personal life.


As he uses random audience members to validate his card tricks, we see his partner,  The Diver (Sean Parris) enter the stage. Is he an illusion or real? That is how playwright Andrew Hinderaker presents the backstory of the Magician’s offstage life. The Diver is  working toward qualifying for the Olympics. He is pursued by the Magician who must control all aspects of the relationship as he does with his tightly controlled magic act. The Driver challenges the magician to meet his estranged father in order to show he is capable of spontaneity.

The scene with his father.  played by Francis Guinan is another simple magic act as he is a fumbling worn-out Vegas minor act. The Magician first becomes an audience volunteer then he tries to help the old magician with a few trade secrets and techniques. Eventually he confronts the old man as to why he left his wife and child (our Magician) when the boy was eight years old. These scenes are moving and honest. But has the young Magician learned that he can’t control everything between people?

I’ll not reveal more including the remaining magic acts and the powerful final illusion that greatly impacts the play. The inclusion of personal life elevates The Magic Play above being a magic show yet as a magic show, this work is both engaging and engrossing. The three actors were outstanding with Brett Schneider demonstrating complete stage skills proving that magic is, indeed, a theatre skill. This is an adult show. It is worth seeing.


Tom Williams.

Date Reviewed: November 1, 2016.

Jeff Recommended.

For more info checkout The Magic Play’s page at

At the Goodman Theatre’s Owen stage, 170 N. Dearborn, call 312-443-3800,, tickets $10 – $40,  Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm,  Saturdays at 2 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2 & 7:30 pm, running time is 2hours, 15 minutes with intermission, through November 20, 2016.