A mentalist show – much like the common “magic show” -- is a unique experience, unlike any other theater experience. Now, make it virtual and you are truly in for a ride.
Like most industries, magicians and mentalists have had to resort to an online platform to cater to their consumers. We’ve seen experiences reimagined in ways beyond comprehension, but Mentalist Vinny DePonto’s show, Mental Amusements, with Bristol Riverside Theatre really takes the cake.
Like many people, I have always been a skeptic when it comes to mentalists and magicians. You know, one of those people who tries to peak behind stage and Googles the trick afterwards? That’s me. Going into the show, I was curious how DePonto would be able to deceive his audience when he had no control over their settings nor materials. Rather than deny the full transparency, he embraced it.
To set the scene, there are two options for tickets: front row or audience member. Front row means you are visible on the screen and used as a subject for his acts. I had my friend, Bitsy, assume the spotlight of the camera as I observed. Front row spectators were asked to have a string, dollar bill, and a ring.
By a stroke of a luck, DePonto happened to pick on her a majority of the show! One of his initial skits revolved around a dollar bill. He asked viewers to input into an equation their birth year, a significant year in their life, how many years it had been since, their age, and the last four digits of the dollar bill they had. He expected everyone to have a different answer, of course. But to prove it, he surveyed the crowd then chose Bitsy for the next section of the trick.
What DePonto did not know was that Bitsy and I did not have a dollar bill on us, so she made up the last four digits without informing him. We figured it was the perfect shot to outsmart him! DePonto went through each number with Bitsy, asking her to think hard about the order of the digits and jotted down his gatherings away from the camera. Once the number was written in full on a paper that viewers could see was not tampered with, he asked Bitsy to state her number. “6629,” she slowly declared.
Lo and behold, he showed us his paper. “6629” was handwritten in bold black letters! There was no explanation, other than mind-reading. Even with the tampering of his trick, he prevailed. There was no denying the powers of Vinny DePonto again. He proved himself over and over for the rest of the show. I am officially a skeptic turned believer!
See the show, Mental Amusements, via the Bristol Riverside Theatre virtually now through November 6, 2020. You won’t regret it!
Written by Colleen Lyons, Marketing & Communications Intern, Fall 2020