Regional Reviews: Los Angeles
Red ThreadAtlas Obscura
The path begins with finding the unique theatrical space the show is set in, a bit of a real world maze that starts by navigating the famously circuitous streets of downtown Los Angeles. One is led to a marked alley, and at the end of this alley is a single sign of a shoe, which points to the entrance of Pskaufman Gallery, a designer shoe store whose subterranean auspices provide the setting for the show. Once downstairs and through a curving set of hallways, one encounters the titular crimson lifeline, which leads one into a bright white room. One wall is covered with a web of the red thread, one strand of which leads into a white padlocked box onstage. You're in the center of the maze, and the show is about to begin.
Mr. Tieber is a charming performer, engaging the audience throughout not only with his impressive prestidigitation skills but also his ready wit and ability to connect with the crowd. He begins with a coin-flipping exercise, where a performer would normally call heads or tails before the coin lands. In this case, however, he has someone in the audience unerringly make the calls, repeatedly, to introduce the concepts of determinism and free will. Along these lines, various crowd volunteers find their free will challenged as Tieber accepts their random choices of cards or numbers and still manages to fit them into a seemingly magically predetermined pattern.
In another sequence, Rubik's Cubes are used to represent chaos and order in a casually impressive bit where the medium and the message are gracefully intertwined. All of Tieber's magic displays are expert, but a couple of them are astonishing in their ambition. In one moment, attempting to find the code for a combination lock, he incorporates so many different ways of using a series of posted numbers that it seems impossible that order will emerge from the chaos. Another scene, in which he demonstrates an uncanny memory, recalling any page or sentence from a group of ten or so books, is jaw dropping. A member of the audience, momentarily stunned into old-timey cliché, literally said, "Holy cow."
Siegfried Tieber is a prodigiously talented performer, and Red Thread is the kind of maze one might wish to stay in for a while, luxuriate in the mysteries of chance, and possibly buy a cocktail for the Minotaur.
Red Thread runs through November 10, 2019, at at the Pskaufman Gallery, down the alley at 113 E 8th St., Los Angeles CA. Tickets and information are available at www.atlasobscura.com.
By Siegfried Tieber and Jared Kopf
Cast: Siegfried Tieber