Silly 'Hocus Pocus' Does the Trick

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It's been said that the entire practice of magic revolves around some dozen or so basic illusions. In "Hocus Pocus (Fish Bones Choke Us)" at Magicopolis, husband-and-wife team Steve Spill and Bozena revisit some of the most familiar standards, with satisfyingly silly results.

The owner-proprietors of Magicopolis, a family-friendly magic venue on Santa Monica's 4th Street, Spill and Bozena lace their show with ample puns. Indeed, some of their tricks are puns in and of themselves, as in an amusingly messy turn in which the German-born Bozena, acting out a trick from a magic how-to book, mistakes the word "bandanna" for "banana."

Bozena's striking appearance effectively contrasts with her over-the-top goofiness, but the real business of the evening lies with Spill, a veteran magician whose expertise ranges from close-up magic to larger-scale illusions, including the requisite effects of levitation and sawing people in half. A wry guy, Spill interacts easily with the audience, remaining nicely understated when the humor turns a bit fatuous.

Those accustomed to the slickly produced mega-magic of David Copperfield or Penn and Teller may find "Hocus Pocus" on the low-tech end of the scale. The show's two assistants, Mary Clymer and Elin Eriksson, look and act more like high school cheerleaders than the sculpted showgirls of bigger-budget productions. Lighting operator Scott Harrison even pops down from his booth to help with an illusion or two. But a warm and fuzzy atmosphere prevails in this cozy enterprise, and those who like their magic up close and personal will likely find "Hocus Pocus" a pun-filled and entertaining outing.

* "Hocus Pocus (Fish Bones Choke Us)," Magicopolis' Abracadabra Theatre, 1418 4th St., Santa Monica. Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 and 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Indefinitely. $15-$20. (310) 451-2241. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

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