Tricks and Treats

Christian Cagigal’s new show Obscura at Aurora Theatre combines magic, storytelling, and illusion.

Christian Cagigal is an illusionist, theater artist, and magician who once described himself as “Mister Rogers who might do bad things.” His shows are often personal, a little creepy (in a good way), and involve a great deal of storytelling. His last show, Now and at the Hour (which will be released as a film in December), was his most personal, he said. It addressed heavy topics such as his father’s PTSD stemming from the Vietnam War. Now Cagigal is back with a new show, Obscura, which has a limited run of fifteen performances at Harry’s UpStage at the Aurora (2081 Addison St., Berkeley). Cagigal said that unlike Now and at the Hour, Obscura is “much lighter, and I’ll admit, a much more fun show to do.”

While Obscura promises to blend “fairy tales, dark fables, and strange happenings,” according to a press release, Cagigal wouldn’t reveal much more about its plot or trappings. “This show is made up of a bunch of short stories, but it also has a larger narrative,” he said. “What’s the narrative? I won’t give that away.”

While the arc of Obscura might remain elusive until you actually see the show, audiences can expect Cagigal’s usual blend of up-close-and-personal magic and intimate tales. “I love getting swept up in a story, which makes the magic finish so much more meaningful, so much more earned,” he said. “And the emotional connection that it creates can take down the ‘wall of incredulous’ some people build at a magic show.”

Cagigal, who said he got into magic because he “was an only child and had no dates in high school,” said he loves performing because “I really love believing in magic, at least for a few minutes. Storytelling or narrative is a wonderful way of connecting, getting past the ‘trick,’ and eventually sharing that love.”

If it’s not yet obvious, Cagigal’s performances are also quite funny. He cites influences as varied as David Copperfield and Harry Anderson from TV’s Night Court. “Recently, my influences have been more obscure — see what I did there? — to non-magicians: Eugene Burger and Robert Neale from the United States, Punx from Germany, and in particular Christian Chelman from Belgium has been a huge influence on me,” he said. “All are storytellers in their own right.”

In addition, Cagigal was also recently brought in as a “magic consultant” for Shotgun Players’ Harry Thaw Hates Everyone. “It’s just a teeny tiny moment in the show — no fireworks or sawing women in half — but it will be quite lovely,” he said. And with his trademark mysteriousness, added, “Which actor and what’s the trick? I won’t give that away.”

Obscura runs Oct. 15–Nov. 2, $28–$32. or 510-843-4822.


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