- The Magazine
Jason Suran stands behind three paper bags. Randomly concealed in one is a large, sharp metal spike. He slowly waves his hand across the top of the bags, waiting for an audience member — who has no idea where the spike is — to call stop. When she does, his hand instantly obliges. He asks if she’s sure. She responds with a halting yes. And so Jason Suran plunges his palm down on the bag — which crumples with a loud pop. The audience collectively gasps and heaves a sigh of relief. The fact that is all happening over Zoom makes it all the more amazing.
“Obviously, I’m in control of the outcome. Obviously, I have some way to influence what happens here,” Suran tells me later. “What I find fascinating is how that doesn’t matter. There’s still this physiological sensation, this empathy that we develop because we’re watching it through a camera. In some ways it’s more terrifying through a camera. There’s something less safe about seeing it on webcam than in a theater.”
A Manhattan-based magician and regular at Alan Cumming’s Club Cumming, Suran, hamstrung by the pandemic, devised an hourlong Zoom routine which he’s been performing several times a week, both in intimate public shows and for private groups. Produced by Cumming (“One of the most kind and generous spirits I have ever met in my entire life”), Jason Suran: Reconnected is an enjoyable way to spend an hour online — a fast-past, arresting, mind-boggling rush of mentalism that leaves you persistently dumbfounded.
“Mentalism is a subgenre of magic,” says the 29-year-old Suran, thickly bearded, classically handsome, and bursting with frenetic energy. “It’s part of what these days people tend to call the mystery arts.”
Suran is unusually frank when asked how he responds to skeptics who question his psychic maneuvers. “I am a strict materialist,” he says. “I believe in what I can see and what I can touch and what can be scientifically evaluated and measured. For me, mentalism really is a means to an end.
“I like this medium because it gives me a chance to talk to people,” he says. “It gives me a chance to put the audience front and center. Mentalism is special in that way. When you’re working with a participant on stage, they’re not just choosing a card, but are actually being asked to reveal themselves in some way, to share something meaningful. And that’s all I’m interested in. So to the skeptics of what I do, if they’re like, ‘That’s not real,’ my answer’s like, ‘Yeah, was that unclear? I feel like I said that at the start.'”
Reconnected plays every Friday at 8:30 p.m. through May 14. Tickets are $50. For more information or to book a private show, visit www.jasonsuran.com/reconnected.
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