The McKittrick Hotel’s latest offering, At the Illusionist’s Table, is like pretty much anything else at the McKittrick… and by that, I mean it’s not to be missed. The mentalism-slash-dinner party theatrical experience hybrid is deliciously magical.
Upon arrival to The Heath performance space within the venue (home of Sleep No More), guests stop in the adjacent hollowed train car for a cocktail before entering the dimly lit dining room, where a single, grand table is set with candles and twigs and nameplates to help you find your seat. Soon, your host for the evening, Scott Silven, welcomes the small gathering of 28 guests. He’s immediately charming as he points out that we’re all about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime experience given the effect this specific roomful of strangers will have on the shared meal.
Quickly, he begins work on his first “trick,” asking one side of the table to jot down a number, one which he eventually deduces and will pop up later as well. As has become a trend in recent illusionist shows (Dan White’s The Magician, Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself), Silven’s cerebral stunts are revealed through storytelling which creates a through-line as he moves from ta-da moment to ta-da moment (none of which, in case you were wondering, involve disappearing silverware). Still, unlike the other illusionists mentioned, Silven does so with a humble warmth and personal touch; his stories and his manner ring far more authentic.
Further, Silven manages to weave a three-course meal and a couple whiskey tastings into his mix of tricks, while subtly encouraging his guests to interact with one another. It somehow all flows naturally: Perhaps that’s the true magic of the experience.
At the Illusionist’s Table arrives at the McKittrick for a 12-week residency following its run at the Edinburgh Festival and a string of sold-out international shows. While the ticket price may make some balk — $175 is rather lofty — it includes a tasty three-course meal and a pair of whiskey tastings, all of which are far more fulfilling than, say, a hologram helicopter or falling chandelier. A