“Brain-hacker” Keith Barry is in New Zealand performing some shows so CHEESE ON TOAST sent James Brennan, member of Collapsing Cities and clinical psychology student along to check it out. Read what he has to say…
Magician, psychic, mentalist… whatever he is, Keith Barry is a talented guy. Add to that his Irish accent, requisite charming wit and it’s not hard to figure out how he’s come to host several TV shows, and crafted a life touring the world ‘hacking’ into brains of audiences and various celebrities… But as far as his show goes, that’s about where the figuring out stops.
I’d consider myself a bit of a skeptic, but am probably still superstitious enough not to muck around with an Ouija board in a cemetery. Regardless of that, Keith is the first to point out he doesn’t believe in psychics or soothsayers either. In fact he does a pretty good piss-take of those ‘your Uncle Joe is giving me a thumbs up from the other side’ medium shows. But somehow he’s still able to pluck insights and names of audience member’s deceased loved ones out of nowhere while he’s doing it.
There’s a bit of that Evil Knievel effect – part of you wants to see him pull it off, but there’s still a part that wants to see him crash and burn. But even when things seem to stumble (which they rarely do) he’s able to fold it seamlessly back into the show with that easy sense of humour.
At times you get hints of how things might work – the power of suggestion, the predictability of crowd behaviour, and the tells you get from the audience’s response to all the goings-on on stage? But it’s hard to not find yourself like Wile E. Coyote, following his moves closely, before you look down and realise you’re way past the cliff edge of rational explanation. I’m usually more of a smoke machines, lasers and grand illusions kind of a guy when it comes to magic, but it’s utterly impressive the things he’s able to pull off with a fairly simple and seemingly transparent set up.
It’s a nice illustration of how we’re all so desperate to find explanations for all our experiences, and how when you don’t have easy ones at hand, you can start to feel pretty uncomfortable. But that’s the really good part – finding out what beliefs and imaginings you and everyone else use to fill in the blanks with, right?
So, well, yeah it was good! - Review by James Brennan
Keith’s WELLINGTON show will change venue, moving from the Opera House to Illot Theatre, 111 Wakefield St, Te Aro, Wellington. There is no change to the show date which remains as Monday August 13.
Tickets will be valid for the new venue, Illot Theatre, without need for exchange.