49 Boxes Provides a Magical Night of Puzzles
I’ve been to Hollywood’s Magic Castle several times and experienced a wide range of magic, from close-up table tricks to grand-scale shows. I’ve also seen tricks that make me wonder – even years later – how they worked. People are capable of creating wondrous, magical things, and 49 Boxes brings an exciting, intimate and awe-inspiring experience to Hollywood.
49 Boxes, created by Michael Borys and Alex Lieu, is not an escape room and not immersive theater. To me, it felt more like a night of play, a communal opportunity to explore hands-on magical elements. With their infectious passion and collective time and money, Borys and Lieu have assembled a large variety of magical artifacts and rarities, all to let strangers interact with them. Instead of putting these treasures behind glass for only a few admirers, the artifacts are brought to the public to uncover and manipulate.
49 Boxes centers around Floyd G. Thayer, a magician from the 1920s-1930s. He founded Thayer Magic Company and created many magical apparatus, some of which Borys and Lieu have acquired and brought to Hollywood for a night of awe and discovery. In the story Borys and Lieu tell, Thayer hid a variety of his tricks in boxes that have not been touched in around 50 years. The inventions hidden away in the boxes all lead to one final box, fastened tight with 19 locks from around the world. As amateur magicians, we had to piece together the puzzles held within these boxes and work together to unlock the bigger, final magic trick Thayer left for us.
With magic tricks peppered throughout the night, I was astounded by what 49 Boxes had to offer. As I walked around the room and glanced at what other tables were working on, I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed that I couldn’t experience everything. My group finished uncovering the secrets at our table relatively quickly, leaving us not as much to do as some other tables. Borys brought out an extra trick for us to toy with, but other guests had much more to do than we did. It’s unfortunate because by the time we were walking around looking for something to do, the tables were deep into their own puzzles and weren’t accepting help from outside.
With around 75 guests, there was a nice social element to the night as we met and collaborated with the people at our table, as well as others. Borys and Lieu were also in attendance, helping or doling out little extras. The excitement was palpable, and the crowd cheered every time the bell was rung, signaling the opening of one of the 19 locks on the final box. When the final magic trick was revealed, the crowd erupted in applause and congratulated each other on our collective accomplishments.
49 Boxes travels between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and is available for private presentations. Tickets are now available to their secret Los Angeles show in June.