Before heading upstairs to view 'Planchette,' each audience member was given a numbered sticker badge at the Writers & Books ticket desk. My hunch was proven correct -- that these would function as a means of selecting audience participation during the show. The witty production is one part narrative theatre, one part magic show, though the lines between those aspects are blurred so well that the engaged audience actively marveled at the well-done sleight of hand and mind tricks.
Dr. Maxwell Fink (Rochester-born magician Brian M. Kehoe) is slightly awkward and emphatic by turns as he explores the history of the Ouija Board and discusses the development of The Fink Method for Contacting the Dead™. Aided by his nervous assistant, Dr. Sarah Swanson (Baltimore-based playwright Annelise Montone), Fink guides the audience through the three tenets of his top secret method: Trust, Cohesion, and Transmission.
Taking the concept and thrill of group collaboration involved in Ouija to the max, Fink's method involves performing a bunch of clever and daring tricks billed as broadcast telepathy and the like. The progress of the experiment is highly entertaining all the way to its logically creepy end, and the actors set the audience up with some heebie-jeebies to take home and think about later (you jerks!). Definitely go see one of the two remaining shows.
Writers & Books on Thursday, September 22, at 9 p.m., and Saturday, September 24, at 10 p.m. $18. Ages 13 and older.