Jeffrey the Great | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Jeffrey the Great


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Jeffery the Great, at the Theatre Building. Jeff Fredriksen is certainly experienced--he's been pulling balloon rabbits out of his hat for years at private parties--and his children's magic show is more sophisticated than one might expect given that history. Autobiographical, it frames a flurry of tricks with the story of how he came to love magic and launched his career. He shows off a variety of skills--from rope tricks, card tricks, and juggling to handstands, escaping from locked boxes, and sawing a young volunteer in half--all of which left his four- to ten-year-old audience openmouthed with amazement.

And not just amazement: the "sawing a volunteer in half" trick brought out a few worried sobs from younger audience members, but they seemed to recover as soon as the volunteer declared that she felt fine. Most adults have seen these routines before, but Fredriksen's humorous, self-deprecating patter should charm them as well. He's not above silliness--in fact some of his best moments are silly, such as when he pretends to magically toss a flame from one cigarette lighter to another--and he has an easy rapport with the children who volunteer. Assisting him is Peyton Wilson, who's funny in a variety of guises, from pouting starlet to Igor-like helpmate.

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