Performing Arts

Theatre Review: ‘Asi Wind’s Inner Circle’: Prepare to be amazed!

BY Judd Hollander TIMEFebruary 25, 2023 PRINT

NEW YORK—The old saying “pick a card, any card” may be a more than a little timeworn, but in the hands of a master magician, it’s completely spot-on.  The master Asi Wind proves this point in his show “Inner Circle,” now running off-Broadway at The Gym at Judson.

Handling a deck of cards with the skill of surgeon, Wind controls its contents from the first moment to the show’s last. In between, one gets to witness such scenarios as a card that seemingly jumps from one place to another, while somehow folding itself in the process.

Wind also manages to have the cards mysteriously re-order themselves in a particular manner—no matter how many times they have been shuffled beforehand, or how many people were actually involved in the shuffling process.

At the same time, Wind also confounds his audience by revealing facts and information about them he simply could not have known beforehand.

The Likeable Every Guy

Rather than presenting himself as a mysterious or mystical sort, with a secret only he is privy too, Wind instead comes off as rather down to earth and quite approachable. Coupled with that everyday guy persona is a bit of a self-deprecating humor. He often drops in little jokes and asides while he holds court and apologizes whenever one of his routines doesn’t seem to work—at least until it does.

This easy attitude allows Wind to effortlessly interact with the attendance, while challenging attendees to catch him in the act of sleight of hand or deliberate misdirection.

The show itself takes place in a specially constructed arena with a large circular table in the center. Where certain members of the audience have a chance to see at least some of Wind’s actions up close. Though there are no bad seats anywhere.

For Wind, this production is also a homecoming of sorts. A native of Israel, he recalls how, nearly 20 years earlier on his first trip to New York, he took a deck of playing cards to nearby Washington Square Park to demonstrate his skill (with the hope of earning a little extra pocket money in the process). Things apparently didn’t go as planned; he notes ruefully how “the fountain made more than I did.” But by perusing his list of credits, which include a previous successful off-Broadway show, it’s apparent things have changed since then.

Asi Wind holding court during his performance
Asi Wind holding court during his performance. (Hal Schulman)

An Honest Magician?

In a nice touch, Wind takes time to pay tribute to some magical mentors who have helped shape in his career: David Blaine, Ricky Jay and the most famous one of all, Harry Houdini. More detailed acknowledgements in this regard can be found in the show’s program.

The best type of magic shows, whether they consist of card tricks, optical illusions, disappearing objects, or even pulling a rabbit out of a hat (another old cliché) are those where the audience is completely fooled by whatever is going on right before their eyes. This is definitely the case here. Even though Wind says right out, “I’m going to lie to you,” the audience leaves completely astounded by what he has pulled off and thoroughly delighted that he has done so.

If you’re looking for the glitz and glamour of a Las Vegas magic act, complete with fire and disappearing tigers, “Inner Circle” is not for you. However, if you want to be amazed by a man who seems to do the impossible with a deck of cards, you won’t be disappointed in the least. I certainly wasn’t.

‘Asi Wind’s Inner Circle’
The Gym at Judson
243 Thompson St.
Running Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes (no intermission)
Closes: May 28

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Judd Hollander is a reviewer for and a member of the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle.
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