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How To Read Minds And Influence People, The Marlborough Theatre, Brighton, May 27

The Argus: Brighton Festival Fringe launches today

It’s hard to be boundlessly energetic in a room as hot as an oven, but Doug Segal managed it. Mind-reader, comedian and all-round winning stage presence, Segal kept the audience applauding and astounded throughout his 60-minute show.

From predicting numbers or words imagined by volunteers to making everyone in the room think of the same animal, the show was fast-paced and engaging. The most spectacular part of the show came when Segal selected a woman to sit on stage with her eyes closed and imagine flying to a foreign country. He then talked to her, slipping in words about Australia, which flashed up on the screen behind them. With the audience in on the game, flags, hats and banners circulated, so when she announced her imagined holiday destination and opened her eyes, she was met with 60 people waving Australian memorabilia. It’s not magic, but it felt like it.

An obvious explanation for Segal’s mind-reading capabilities would be that the chosen audience members were stooges. But if that were so, he must have employed half the people attending. Such high levels of audience participation suggested something more mysterious was afoot. Although some of the tricks could be explained by the power of positive suggestion and reinforcement, others were much more baffling.

This mind-reading show was unpretentious, hilarious and unquestionably entertaining. Amid a sea of comedy shows during the Fringe, this really stood out as unusual.

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