Making my way to the elegant and historic Rialto Theater, I had no idea what to expect from Christian Cagigal’s Now and At the Hour, which made the experience that much more intriguing. I first heard about the production at the launch party for Beyond The Mountain Productions, last July. Now And At The Hour is Cagigal’s latest show, which is in the process of being turned into a documentary film. It was described as combining storytelling, magic and mentalism; not knowing exactly what to expect, I had a feeling I was in for a treat.
The audience was seated on stage, which was kind of unusual but it set the tone for an intimate experience. After the lights dimmed, a stocky and anxious character stumbled onto the stage, carrying a rolled up carpet under one arm and a suitcase in the other. Throughout the next hour, Cagigal recalled what it felt like growing up with his father: a Vietnam war veteran who suffered from PTSD. Cagigal coped with the realities of living with a mentally ill parent through magic, and he shared his experience through the telling of his own memories and by getting the audience to recall their own.
This interaction created a real atmosphere of empathy. In between narrations, Cagigal engaged the audience with some basic sleight of hand tricks, but it was with the mindreading element that I was really taken aback. At one point, Cagigal got the audience emotionally involved by handing every person a blank sheet of paper. He instructed everyone to think about a special person in their lives, past or present, and to imagine that person standing right there in front of them while holding up that piece of paper. Cagigal then pulled out one of his magic instruments, a vintage viewfinder, which he used to read into the audience and analyze their memories.
He then, quite accurately, scribbled down the key elements of each individual memory on the blank sheets of paper. It was startling and moving all at once. While describing his own very personal, and at times painful memories, Cagigal’s Now and at the Hour weaves together impeccably the topics of time, relationships, memory and imagination and it is captivating from beginning to end.
For those of you who are skeptical of magicians and their trade – this show is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Now and at the Hour is definitely worth it, even more so because of the beautiful location and because the money that is raised through programme sales are donated to the Montreal Children’s hospital.
The show will continue running from May 24 through the 26 at the Rialto Theatre.