Hello guys and girls!
It's been a while since my last blog post and so I thought we would do something VERY special. My wife and I attended my favourite magician's theatre show. And very kindly, my wife - Eliza Bailey (writer, editor and very good cook) has written a little review from a 'muggles' point of view. ENJOY!
Luke Jermay - Sixth Sense Show
Luke Jermay is not a wizard. Iain and I absolutely did not go to see a wizard on Saturday. We saw a mature, grown up show about mentalism and illusion. None of these childish spells, or Harry Potter-ish wish fulfillment, no elves or sprites or jiggery pokery; it was a thought provoking, grown-up, suspend-your-disbelief-for-a-moment engagement with an artist of psychological illusion.
Honestly, though, we did see a wizard on Saturday. You see, it's all very well to talk about how magic 'isn't real', and how 'it's all an illusion', and the way that 'magicians just influence you by suggestion and by planting ideas in your head' and all that, but I can't quite bring myself to say that about Luke Jermay's 'Sixth Sense' show. I expect I could have a good crack at explaining the predictions, illusions and mind-reading away, as dismissively as with any other magic show, but somehow, with Luke, I don't want to.
Here's a fact: it's impossible to read someone's mind. Unless you're Mel Gibson in the bath with a hairdryer*, you're not going to leave your house for your commute to work tomorrow to find that you can hear the thoughts of the weirdo invading your space on the tube. Here's another thing: I wouldn’t like to risk thinking anything too embarrassing while standing near Luke Jermay. I know he can't read my mind, but...maybe he can read my mind. Luke's performance has the ring of truth to it; the predictions are so often complexly accurate, and when they miss the mark, the ideas he has put forward are only a whisker away from the truth anyway. Let's just be glad that he decided to be a mentalist and not to work for the HMRC.
In particular, what I loved about this show was Luke's marrying of the ritualistic and the rational. You can perceive his intelligence in the way he speaks and presents himself, and in the orderliness of the show as a whole; however, his performance is full of strange, obsessive-compulsive actions that he completes before giving his predictions.
One of the most astounding sections of the show was during a prediction where two audience members were invited to select a random passage in a book, to focus on it, and have Luke divine their thoughts. I've seen this sort of thing done on stage before, and performers usually present this trick as being based around their knowledge of the book in question, hammering home their heightened memory or literary sensitivity. Not Luke. His performance of this trick was mystical; before plucking the audience member's thoughts from her mind, Luke washed his hands in a large glass bowl, and took her hands in his, still dripping. It was as if the ritual of the water on Luke's hands did the work for him and channeled the audience member's thoughts directly to him, like electricity down a copper wire. No explanation, no rationalisation, just...magic.
Another unusual feature of Luke's show is his treatment of the audience. He is kind. That may not sound like much, but it's a significant USP for a magician. Too many performers rely on their ability to embarrass the audience in order to command a room, always resorting to sly digs and easy put-downs to reinforce their stage presence. From the start, it is crystal clear that Luke doesn't need to rely on such tactics.
He is gentle with participants, only revealing what he intuits is acceptable to reveal, never going for big laughs at someone's expense. Even when identifying a skeptic or two in the audience, Luke's jibes are friendly, and mainly centred around challenging the audience members to test the validity of his psychic ability. Indeed, his unwillingness to reveal everything makes the show that more tantalising, and leaves the audience in a state of delicious curiosity.
Through the two hours, watching hit after hit with Luke's predictions, all the while there is a wink, a nod to the theatricality of it all, a pair of fingers crossed behind the back. The show is obsessively self-aware, continuously referencing its own theatricality and un-real-ness through the rituals Luke performs before every prediction, the coins taped over his eyes while he reveals the audience's deepest thoughts and longings, the lighting imitative of a dark and stormy night. I mean, you didn't really think it was real did you?
If Luke is a wizard, he's certainly more Shakespeare's Prospero and less Gandalf the Grey. A mysterious, powerful wizard, banished to a turbulent and strange island in the middle of a storm of his own making, a loner, an outlier with unsettling powers, someone impossible to ignore but unnerving to be around. A man with a sense of his own theatricality, his own daring dance with truth and illusion; a man who's not afraid to point out the lies, while asking us to believe. He might end his show as Prospero, saying
'These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air -
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on'
Luke – may your audiences continue to be made of the same stuff.
*my favourite Cluedo guess