Deviser and Performer: Doug Segal
Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
Given the opportunity to speculate about the original profession of an entertainer you might guess at advertising. Psychology is unlikely. Statistician is right out. Yet from such an unlikely background Doug Segal crafts a highly original act. Mind you, with a haircut that brings to mind Peter Mandelson and a curious dress sense (Segal wears a wristwatch and has a timepiece hanging around his neck), the act has to be special.
Segal takes an educational approach and demonstrates how to read body language, detect deception and implant subliminal suggestions so that the effect is that of reading minds. In retrospect some of this seems like applied common sense. It is obvious, when pointed out, that a right-handed person would try to deceive by concealing an object in his or her left hand. As everyone knows liars avoid eye contact a fraud would studiously look you in the eye.
But, like any magician, Segal does not divulge his best tricks. Statistics alone cannot explain how sealed envelopes, in plain sight from the start of the show, contain numbers and other data put forward by the audience.
The show climaxes with Segal teaching a volunteer the techniques that make ‘mind reading’ possible. It is very impressive but brings to light one of the few flaws in the show, because the impact is greatest for the individual concerned rather than the audience as a whole. To an extent the originality of the show mutes its power, as audiences may not be accustomed to having to concentrate on the lengthy instructions that Segal rattles off. The effect is, occasionally, a show that is impressive and provocative rather than dramatic.
The high point of the show involves Segal implanting a holiday destination in the mind of a volunteer. The technique is made clear as key words from his speech are highlighted on a screen. There is, however, a superb twist that ensures the trick is unforgettable.It can’t be revealed in a review for fear of spoiling the surprise but trust me – it’s a beauty.