Hocus-pocus and hypnotism

It’s all hocus-pocus at the capital’s Gyalino Music Theater on Syngrou Avenue as magicians, illusionists and wizards from around the world convene for the Art and Illusion Magic Festival 2006. Starting on March 9 and running in two parts until April 19 (March 9-27 and March 29 – April 19), the festival combines different forms of art with illusion. From Japan, Mr Shimada, the awarded pioneer of so-called dove magic, will bring age-old secrets of the Orient to the stage, while Valerie Mageaux from France – born to a family of circus performers and raised on tours – will display the skills that have made her a sought-after performer and which secured her a television show in her native country presenting magicians and magic shows. Germany’s Shawn Farquhar has already been named International Magic Champion three times and specializes in hypnosis with a good dollop of humor. Relaxation and a changed state of mind are also the aims of Italy’s Erix Logan, whose audiences in the past have claimed that they leave his shows feeling relaxed and serene. Meanwhile, the UK’s Guy Barrett has his eye set well on the future with a program of classic magic tricks served with a contemporary twist. While card tricks may appear so simple you can learn them from a book, America’s Chris Randall puts all the power of illusion into them and ups the ante, as Britain’s James Goodman is there to entertain with clownish gags and and getting up to all sorts of shenanigans. For the second leg of the festival, Farquhar and Randall will take to the stage again, but this time they will be joined by three different illusionists. Ballerina-turned-magician Juliana Chen tops the bill as the only woman to have won the international magic competition in over 50 years. Born and raised in China and a former student of fine arts, Chen left her native country for Canada, where she took up her wand to blend magic with dance, acrobatics, theater and pantomime. She is also the production director of the festival that will be held in Athens. Kevin James is better known for an impressive set he does with his best friend, a Charlie Chaplin impersonator, but in Athens he will be performing solo, dishing up humor and dexterity all in one. Lastly, fakir Omar Pasha casts a slightly darker shroud of mystery over the festival as he recreates the air of the Eastern desert. Performances are scheduled for Fridays to Mondays at 9.30 p.m. with additional shows on Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at noon and 5 p.m. Ticket prices range from 20-50 euros and there is a 10-euro discount on the price of individual tickets if purchased before March 9. Gyalino Theater, 143 Syngrou, tel 210.931.5600.