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Doug Segal: How to Read Minds and Influence People
Published on Tuesday, 14 August 2012
4

4 stars

Gilded Balloon Teviot (venue website)
Cabaret
2-12, 14-27 Aug, 7:00pm-8:00pm
Reviewed by Lynne Morris

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

As a forerunner to this year’s Fringe, we at FringeGuru offered you some previews to assist in planning your schedule. Doug Segal’s show How to Read Minds and Influence People was among the offerings and my colleagues gave a great summary of the show, making specific reference to Segal’s wonderfully “easy humour and intelligent chicanery”.  This, for me, is the main difference between Segal and the other similar performers to whom he is often compared; he is genuinely very likeable.

This show is Segal’s second in Edinburgh – and after last year’s sell-out performance, it is evident that he wants to give his punters something different, that little bit extra. Audience members make their way past a camera that is perched stage left, a detail that could needlessly terrify some of the more reserved amongst us. If seated anywhere near the front, you may well be selected to join Segal onstage, and you’re highly likely to be shown in a live feed from the camera’s hungry gaze. But don’t worry; you are in very safe hands.

Segal is not out to shock; he is far more interested in impressing and imparting his wisdom. Yet I find such generosity concerning. In one sequence for example, claiming to use skills honed during time spent working in the fields of psychology and advertising, he uses clever visuals to perform a trick that has the entire auditorium holding their breath. But once the methods have supposedly been laid bare, and shown to be a formula of sorts, how impressed can anyone really be? Isn’t the beauty in the mystery?

I liked Segal, and really enjoyed this show. But ironically, having purportedly learned its secrets, I will not be in a hurry to see anything like it again. I won’t be giving much away in saying that after the final trick, in which he imparted further wisdom onto an audience member and showed that he was no longer the only mind reader in the room, he received a rapturous standing ovation. I was impressed, yet (maybe alone among the crowd), I found a sensation of mild irritation began to surface. Segal’s friendly, witty banter and puppy-like charm deferred this feeling for most of the hour; yet by the end, the slick tricks and subsequent carefully-anticipated successes start to tire.

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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