Friday, November 2, 2018

Guest review: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini

Dick Brookz and Dorothy Dietrich of the Houdini Museum in Scranton recently attended Cynthia von Buhler's immersive theatrical experience The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini in New York. I'm pleased to share their review.

Worth the trip from anywhere in the world to NYC for any true Houdini fan and for those who would like to get a sense what really happened to Houdini, one of the world’s most iconic entertainers, in his final days. It is a work of genius. It is done in a very avant guard technique known as Immersive Theater. In this case it is highly effective. The audience members go from scene to scene as if being in a live 3d movie. Depending which of the 8 characters your group is following, you pick up various pieces of the story that make the whole. It is like being part of a living Rubic’s Cube about Houdini’s mysterious death or murder.

The amazing thing is as it progresses every audience member gets to see all the events from the different perspective of the character they are following along with. You are moved in your group from area to area, including to a private seance room, Houdini’s dressing room, a detectives office, an operating room, a very intimate bedroom, along with several visits to the main theater where everyone congregates in their respective rows for a grand Houdini strait jacket presentation, or several Water Torture tank challenges, or in one case a packed Margery revival style celebration, and more. You could be following along with Houdini, wife Bess Houdini, spiritualist Margery, puncher J. Gordon Whitehead, assistant Jim Collins, students Jack Price and Smilovitz, Houdini’s lawyer, or medical staff, or the exciting, sexy but more fictional Minky Woodcock. All done with a supremely talented cast of performers. I am trying not to be a spoiler in any way, except that there is some full female nudity involved, all in keeping with the story and in “good taste”.

It is all very well scripted and performed with great enthusiasm, style and panache. Certainly, one visit to The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini could easily get one rushing to attend it again and again. A truly haunting and exciting experience. It is highly recommended and very moving in its beauty, mystery and controversial ideas. 
Higher priced tickets include a copy of the hardcover graphic novel signed by the creator/director/author/illustrator Cynthia von Buhler. “The twenties were a time when freedom roared, especially for women, who chose to keep their war-time jobs, drank booze, bobbed their hair, threw away their corsets, and finally won the right to vote… I love things that are true but you can’t believe they’re true because they’re so bizarre… ” said von Buhler. ”

The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini will conclude on November 10th, 2018 at Theatre 80 (80 St. Marks Place, Manhattan). Performances are at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.  For tickets and more information visit the official website.

Photos by Mark Shelby Perry.



  1. Seeing this next week and I can't wait. Very happy to read this enthusiastic review from Dick Brookz and Dorothy Dietrich.

  2. Kills me that I'm not going to be able to see this. :(

  3. You would have loved it John. Just got back from seeing this work of art. Got to sit at Seance table with Minky and Margery and follow Houdini around. Highly recommend it.

  4. Is there any video you can share showing all the water tank escapes? By pearls daily?