With disarming charm and easy wit, blending sleight-of-hand, mind tricks, impressively orchestrated multi-media and psychology, Richard Wiseman presents a fascinating insight into just how crude and fragile perception truly is.
Wiseman belongs to the same school of showmanship, illusion and psychological revelation that many will be familiar with through Derren Brown’s popular television work.
Psychobabble focuses on ‘Illusion’, the ‘Paranormal’ and (the nature of) ‘Luck’.
The show is a mix of sleight-of-hand card and coin style tricks and very slick video and image projection, both involving a nice amount of not in the least intimidating audience participation. His aim is to reveal the ultimately illusory nature of the way in which we break the world down into recognisable and digestible units or atoms, and how much these processes of reduction and selection repress: how much of what we see and hear is constructed by our expectations and how dull and fragile perception really is…
Wiseman’s obvious charm, wit and rapport with his audience aside, what is so effective in his show is (very much like Brown) not so much the particular tricks and illusions that he performs, but his revelation of the psychological mechanisms and processes at stake in their effects.
Outside of Wiseman’s presentation, then, the humour and pathos of Psychobabble derive from the fact that the ‘tricks’ show you how dull and ridiculous you are, but that Wiseman ultimately allows you the satisfaction of becoming smart enough to see how dull and ridiculous you are…
(and the show abounds in, and thrives on, these uncanny starts…).
From the playful silliness of his performance of illusions, through an equally tongue-in-cheek debunking of various ‘paranormal’ phenomenon, Psychobabble moves ultimately to a surprising, effective and uplifting message on the potential for transcending the foibles and complacency of everyday perception and the limits that it places upon us.