Capital Fringe Review: ‘Patterns: A Number & Symbols Show’ by Sydney-Chanele Dawkins

Magic opens our eyes to wonder, fantasy, and possibilities . . . and then reveals the truth.

Without introduction or fanfare, a solo performer strolls onto the Main Stage of Goethe Institut. In a relaxed, low energy and conversational tone, the mustached and slightly silver haired goateed man begins to talk about his intense reading habits – an 85-100 book a year obsession that range from I Ching to Dante’s Inferno. What begins as an informed literary confessional quickly segues into the reveal of the evening – the hidden secrets of the Universe.


“The Universe emits messages but we don’t see it,” says professional magician Gregg Tobo, as he takes the audience on a stimulating journey. “We tend to overlook what is right in front of us.” (I only know his name because it is in the Fringe program).

Patterns: A Number & Symbols Show is the intoxicating, one of a kind D.C. Fringe Fest show that shows and tells the inexplicable patterns constructed in one man’s versatile mind. A quirky blend of interactive theater, minimal props, and mentalism, what the five-time winner of the Boulder (Co.) Fringe “Encore Award” creates is not your standard magic show. Las Vegas glitz, illusion, and pyrotechnics – this is not. It’s not a comedy club styled, slight of hand magic show either. To be clear, there is no razzle dazzle. No magic capes, no sawed-in-half assistants, and no ‘magically’ appearing rabbits out of hats – and that’s what makes Patterns such seductive ‘Fringe’ material. All rules and expectations are out the door.

A master of the slow burn, Greg Tobo educates – as he manipulates.

As I sat transfixed with bewildering fascination, Patterns is a sixty-minute exploration filled of mental mystique, and Tobo’s intriguing niche history of the worlds’ oldest art (Magic).

His unusual storytelling is simple talk of numbers, letters, and their curious repeated patterns in the Universe. The mantra for the evening is“anything we put in our system tonight will be reflected; it will show itself again,”

Is the manipulation simply the literal mental gymnastics of numbers, letters, and scientific equations, the probe of your perception, or the real transformation of one’s thinking process? The answer is something that as an audience member you will discover on this memory quest.

The transportive engagement with the audience is a treat (or is it a trick?) So when you buy a Patterns: A Number & Symbols Show ticket, I recommend that you actively participate and volunteer to assist Tobo as he exercises his highly-developed memory techniques and uses his dexterous abilities to finesse the solicited audience supplied input and the recollection quagmires.


The magic of Greg Tobo’s extemporaneous performance with random information challenges explanation, but Tobo generously provides many ‘tricks’ of his trade. His trained skills and intellect reminds one that anything is possible. “See the available symbols in front of you,” he encourages.

Easier said than done.

Trust when I say – that even when you are told how Tobo does what he does – you will still walk away bedazzled.

Running Time: 60 minutes.

Patterns: A Numbers & Symbols Show plays through July 27th at the Goethe Institut – Main Stage – Gallery 812 7th Street NW, in Washington, DC. For performances and tickets visit their Capital Fringe page.

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Sydney-Chanele Dawkins
Sydney-Chanele Dawkins is an award-winning feature filmmaker, film curator, film festival producer and a theater/film critic and arts writer. She also serves as an impassioned advocate for the Arts as Chair of the Alexandria Commission for the Arts in Alexandria, VA. Fearless. Tenacious. Passionate. Loyal. These characteristics best describe Sydney-Chanele's approach to life, her enthusiasm for live theater and the arts, and her cinephile obsession with world cinema. Her successful first film, 'Modern Love is Automatic' premiered at SXSW in Austin, Texas, and made its European debut at the Edinburgh Film Festival. She recently completed her third film, the animated - 'The Wonderful Woes of Marsh' - which is rounding the film festival circuit. In 2013, Sydney-Chanele produced the box office hit,Neil Simon's Rumors for the McLean Community Players at Alden Theater, Her next producing effort in 2014 is Pearl Cleage's 'Blues for an Alabama Sky' for Port City Playhouse. Programmer for Cinema Art Bethesda and Co Chair of the Film Program for Artomatic, Sydney-Chanele is the past Festival Director of the Alexandria Film Festival, the Reel Independent Film Festival,and Female Shorts & Video Showcase. She is active in leadership and programming positions with DC Metro area Film Festivals including: Filmfest DC, DC Shorts, the Washington Jewish Film Festival, Arabian Sights Film festival, and AFI Docs. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions - [Note: Sydney-Chanele Dawkins passed away on July 8, 2015, at age 47, after a battle with Breast Cancer.]


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