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Review: ‘Cody Clark: A Different Way of Thinking’ at Charm City Fringe Festival

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Cody Clark is obsessed with magic. At the start of Cody Clark: A Different Way of Thinking, the audience is handed a Rubik’s cube to play with. Everyone passes it around and, when Cody comes on stage, he performs his first trick utilizing the cube and stating, “Every different combination is its own unique solution.” Cody is not just obsessed with magic: he is also autistic. He utilizes this fact to great effect. Through his magic, he shows the audience how his neuro-atypical make up provides a benefit to his work, how his autism provides a unique solution for his magic.

Of course, Cody is different. This is also apparent in his act. He makes plenty of jokes and most of them are funny. When you are in the audience, you have to consider what it took for him to learn to tell them. While watching him, I wondered if it was possible that he had a better understanding of communication than the average person because it was not something that came naturally. He had to recognize the patterns and put them together, bringing “order to chaos” as he mentioned, which is a fairly typical trait of most autistic people.

Throughout the show, Cody related many of his tricks back to his childhood. He mused on what it might be like for a parent to hear that their child will never be able to survive on their own, how his memaw calmed his meltdowns with her Velveeta macaroni and cheese, and what happened the first time he fell in love. As Cody said before a card trick, Fringe is essentially a bunch of “social justice card games,” and we should not be afraid of drawing the autism card.

Cody employed a wide array of props in his show. Each magic trick was equally impressive, though his resilience in explaining his experience of life through his show is probably the most impressive part of his act. When he discussed a mentor telling him that there were “no secrets on stage” it was apparent that this is the philosophy by which this act came into being. We would probably all be better off if we could relate to each other authentically.

This show deals heavily with stereotypes, as well. A jab at Rain Man is made. When it comes to autism, I believe that we all make assumptions. There are so many places where a person can fall on the spectrum that it’s hard to tell whether your friend, your teacher, possibly even your parent may be autistic in some ways. It isn’t something that fits into any one box and Cody does a good job of convincing the audience that we are all our own unique people. Labels can help to explain us, but should not confine us to any one set of behaviors.

Cody Clark puts on a good show and it doesn’t hurt that people may learn something in the process. If you are interested in learning more about autism, or helping autistic adults in the Baltimore area, Cody recommends Itineris Baltimore.

Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.

Cody Clark: A Different Way of Thinking plays through November 9, 2017, at the 322 Loft – 322 North Howard Street in Baltimore, MD. Tickets and Charm City Fringe Festival buttons may be purchased at Fringe HQ (Le Mondo, 406 N Howard Street), the venue, or online.

Baltimore’s historic Lexington Market is joining DC Metro Theater Arts in support of our coverage of the Charm City Fringe Festival. The Market closes at 6pm on weekdays and is closed Sundays, but we recommend that Fringe-goers stop by on Saturday to grab lunch and take a look around, in addition to checking out the local bands which play from 12:00pm to 2:00 pm.

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