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New York Theater

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If you're the sort who believes in ersatz mysticism, you might really enjoy this show by a cocky, good-looking young Israeli who deigns to bill himself the Mentalizer.

He is also called Ehud Segev, and his show shifts between magic, psychic work, and a series of ruminative monologues about his background in the Holy Land. Without question, the magic is the most impressive part of the show. Displaying a showman's flair and bearing, he presents effective card tricks, some mind-bending spoon bending, and an impressive trick in which he takes an audience member's credit card and makes it orbit his body.

As a psychic, Segev was less impressive. Wading into the trembling audience somewhat obnoxiously, he picked people out of the crowd and stated various aspects of their background and personality, even the songs in their head. He was right sometimes. A few people in the audience gasped on occasion; some even seemed to enjoy being targeted. He was also wrong on occasion, more than a psychic really should be. I guess you're supposed to wonder whether he really could be a psychic, but I found myself wondering about which people in the audience were the plants.

I was certainly engaged during the psychic segments, perhaps out of fear that I would be called on (eventually I was). During the meandering monologues about Israel, family, and being a child outcast, my mind drifted like an audience member's Visa card. The sentimental, almost preachy tone was out of place in the show; it seemed a manifestation of a kind of theatrical thumb-sucking impulse. Moreover, Segev lacks the acting chops to handle the dramatic material. While charismatic during the tricks, he disappears during the drama -- like magic.

Self-presented

at the American Theatre of Actors, 314 W. 54th St., NYC.

Jan. 3-29. Mon.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.

(212) 352-3101.

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