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Oxford Review: My "Psychic" Life

 3 starsAt the Oxford Fringe
Reviewed by Alice de Cent

This show is the Ready Steady Cook of the Fringe. It stirs together mindreading tricks, psychology, PowerPoint, and a guy who looks a fair bit like Ed Milliband. You think you know where something’s going – and then out of nowhere, the Leader of the Opposition is trying to guess your PIN number. And there is a potato on the table.

Not to over-use the Ready Steady Cook reference, but here’s another similarity: everybody knows it’s not real, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. You might have twigged from the quote marks in the title that Rob Bailey is more of a skeptic than a psychic, and his informal, understated approach works well with his psychologist persona.

The tricks are well-executed and entertaining. Sometimes, however, Bailey is a little low on energy, and slows things down rather than keeping up the momentum in the multi-stage sections. There were also points when the audience members Bailey involved in the tricks weren’t quite sure what they should be doing. A few more specific instructions would remedy this, as well as avoiding any drop in pace while audience members are shuffling cards or visualizing numbers.

There are some classic “think of a number” tricks, as well as a seemingly impossible memory test – aptly involving psychological tome the DSM – and the one with the spike under the paper cup, that makes me wince every time because my fear of sharp things trumps any rational understanding of performance. The show is peppered with some subtle laughs, and well-played surprise comedy moments.

This isn’t flashy stuff, but it’s all the more enjoyable for it. Bailey could possibly give a larger, more energized performance, but his friendly sense of humour makes for a relaxed audience, who aren’t shy to be the one asked to come onto the stage.  With PowerPoint. a political look-alike, and the ominous presence of a medium-sized potato, My “Psychic” Life is an entertaining hour with lots to recommend it.

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