Above: Stuart Lightbody (facing the audience on the right) uses various techniques to demonstrate the power of suggestion to the audience while Bryan Miles (facing away from the audience) addresses a group of volunteers to assess those that might be most open to suggestion and most willing to participate in the next psychological experiment.
Combine Stuart Lightbody's abilities at misdirection and sleight-of-hand manipulations (best utilised with a deck of cards) with mentalist Bryan Miles' penchant for suggestion, psychology, deception, and illusion and the result is the new show Sleight of Mind, which is in Cape Town on a limited run after a highly successful debut at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown earlier this year.
Mentalism and sleight of hand are categories of magic that are not usually well matched or easily combined but the two performers have managed to do so in a manner that flows effortlessly from one style to the other, then back again, engaging the audience in the process as they are let in on a few secrets, but not too many.
There's not much I can say about the actual contents of the show as I would spoil the experience for those who still have to see it but the venue allows for close contact with the performers leading to a warm, jovial setting and some interesting results as the audience is utilised masterfully to demonstrate the surprising malleability of the mind. Audience members were required as assistants a number of times but were never put on the spot or made to feel uncomfortable and many were fun, engaging participants. For one of the bigger experiments, pictured above, a group of volunteers was necessary so that Bryan Miles could determine who would be most suitable as subjects to demonstrate the power of suggestion (without the use of hypnosis) and I think the results were as surprising to the participants (you could see it in the expressions on their faces) as they were to the audience.
I spoke to the performers after the show I attended and Stuart said to me that the audience had been more skeptical (and therefore in some ways, I would presume, more difficult) than most. In contrast, what I saw was a group of highly intelligent people being won over by a friendly atmosphere, brain-twisting effects - both big and small - and unexpected moments, with lots of discussion after the show as audience members who had participated in some of the experiments were quizzed by others as everyone tried to determine, without much success, how the impossible had played out.
Sleight Of Mind runs for three more evenings (8, 9, and 10 October 2009) at 8pm at the Intimate Theatre and I highly recommend it. To book, email info -[at]- bryanmiles -[dot]- com. Tickets are also available at the door.
Previously in Cape Town > South Africa > Africa > Earth:
* "52" With Stuart Lightbody