FRINGE REVIEW – Marc Salem’s Mind Games, Assembly

*****

16 – 22 Aug  1815 (1915) @ Assembly Princes Street Gardens

Speaking with an Edinburgh mind-reader before the show yesterday who told me that Marc Salem is the “godfather of mentalism who has inspired a lot of people to perform”  confirmed my excitement to have chosen this show.  There is no doubting Marc’s credentials and experience in the field of psychology, but what followed was not as impressive as his shiny flyer would have you believe.

Starting off with a disclaimer that he was a thought-reader and had no intention of embarrassing anyone who assisted him throughout the show, put my mind at ease.  Ten minutes later, I found myself next to the father of a ten year old boy helper, who was taking time to count up some change for a trick and getting a little flustered.  Marc didn’t make any effort to put him at ease and from the front row, I could see that the £2.60 he had predicted was in a scrawl that looked like the ‘L’ the boy said it did.

Marc seemed to be folding up bits of paper, shuffling envelopes and getting people to draw pictures on paper rather than churn out trick after trick.  For what was only his third demonstration (out of four) he guessed which person drew what picture by asking them to lie to his face.  Again, from the front row, I could see the people shuffling and looking away when lying and my fellow reviewer and I guessed them correctly without the years of training he’s had.

The last trick of the show was a clever method of blindfolding himself and reading thoughts from the audience and guessing objects with some degree of success. Determined to test him out, I insisted to one of his audience helpers that she take my watch.  He ‘read’ that it was a watch (without touching it), but asked if it had any sentimental value, to which I replied it didn’t.  He insisted it had ‘ion’ inscribed on it and that it would be a collector’s piece in the future – which I found hard to believe as it is a ‘breo’ plastic £10 bracelet watch.

A couple of his ‘thoughts were impressive as he seemed to pick them up from the air, but his concluding trick of guessing where someone was on stage by listening to his heart beat failed to impress me.

At the finish Marc says that “any ten year old could do what he has done – with thirty years of practise” but I don’t think it would take a ten year old that long to come up with a better show.  With other excellent mind-reading performers and magicians in the Edinburgh Fringe, your money would definitely be better spent on a ticket elsewhere.

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