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The phrase “Better late than never” was never more true than this past Saturday when, due to a ticket misprinting, Lawrence Hass and Eugene Burger started their sold-out performance half an hour late. However, this delay only caused the audience’s anticipation to build, and after taking the time to greet people and help seat them, Burger and Hass proceeded to execute a nearly flawless performance that did not fail to astound.

With his theatrical gestures and exuberant energy, Lawrence Hass is the picture everybody gets when they hear the word “magician”. I kept waiting for him to whip a white rabbit out of a top hat, or disappear in a puff of smoke. While there were no bunnies in this performance, one of Hass’ most memorable acts was actually far different from his usual lively performances. What made this particular trick so great and so memorable was that it branched out from typical magic tricks and illusions. Hass, on top of being a magician, is also a philosopher and has a beautiful way with words. In this act of his, Hass tells a story about a hunchback who, with his words alone, managed to win the hand of a renowned beauty. At first repulsed by his appearance, the woman refuses to marry the hunchback; however, he persuades her to listen to him for just five minutes, promising to leave her alone forever afterwards. As the performance progresses, it becomes hard to tell which is more captivating: the hunchback’s story, as he tells of a time long ago when his utter selflessness saved her from the fate he suffers from now, or Hass’ card trick, as he transforms the king and queen of spades into two cards that, when held together, form the shape of a heart.

 

After watching Eugene Burger perform, it’s not hard to see why Hass introduced him as a “master magician”. Burger’s trademark is his dark, wry humor and his ability to amaze with even the simplest of tricks. Like Hass, Burger also demonstrates a talent for story-telling and, for his opening act, launched into a tale about a superstitious ruler who invited some friends over for dinner. Burger has a stack of red cards in his hands; one each for the ruler and his friends. As Burger counts off for the audience, the ruler realizes that there are thirteen people over for dinner. As the ruler throws one of the friends out of his house, so Burger discards a stack from the deck. But when the ruler recounts, there are still thirteen- and so there are still thirteen red cards in Burger’s deck. This happens two or three more times, but no matter how many times Burger does the trick, there are always thirteen red cards in his hands. Finally, exasperated, the ruler throws out two of his friends, and everybody sits down to eat. But the next day, the men were found lying dead around the table. Their bodies were blackened by food poisoning. Burger tells us with a dry chuckle as he counts off his deck of cards: not only are there still thirteen, but, inexplicably, all of them are black now.

 

Hass and Burger are indeed master illusionists, weaving reality and fiction into their performances so seamlessly that you literally get lost in their performances.

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The student news site of Austin College
Blink Twice and You’ll Miss