Mark Knight had the honour of performing to a packed-out room, clearly up for a fun Friday night of Mind Reading and Hypnosis – any Edinburgh performer’s dream scenario. I thought he may have been venue staff before he actually introduced himself a minute or two after wandering on stage and rambling aimlessly, and it became apparent that the show had, indeed, already begun. He had all the gravitas of someone who was on stage for the very first time, rattling uncomfortably through an unscripted introduction, while rocking unsteadily on his feet.
Mark Knight had all the gravitas of someone who was on stage for the very first time.
To call this a ‘comedy’ show is the most amusing aspect of its design. There were no jokes, no attempt to engage the audience, just a ten-minute anecdote with unnecessarily detailed information about the varying levels of trance one can experience. He finally completed his lecture and invited volunteers on stage without a request for applause. He did the same magic trick, five times on four different people, making three blunders along the way that he was unable to cover. He dismissed his last volunteer, who he had failed to ‘read’ for a second time, saying “That’s not a first, by the way.” Unsurprising.
Knight then moved on to the hypnosis, introducing it with the entirely inaccurate statement, “Everyone can be hypnotised”. He got the volunteers to fetch their own chairs from the side and set them up on stage haphazardly, in one of the more baffling scenes I’ve witnessed in a hypnosis show. Now, one hour is not a long time to deliver a hypnosis show. Every minute is precious. It was 35 minutes into the show before Mark had anyone entranced. To his credit, he had two (possibly three) people hypnotised out of nine volunteers, but this is more a testament to the their power than his induction script or delivery.
There were some strong reactions from the volunteers and the room was certainly laughing by the end, as the hypnotics ‘mind read’ the audience, ran exercise classes and talked like aliens. The atmosphere was shy of the potential created by the strength of the volunteers and the suitability of the room for a memorable hour, but nonetheless, the audience had fun for 15 minutes.
He picked one girl to remain on stage for a final display of magic and bizarrely seated her with her back fully to the audience, before umming and ahing an irrelevant story about a local 19th century murder and describing four suspects. He asked her to ‘read his mind’ to work out which of the unrelatable characters committed the murder. After she had told him, he then removed an envelope from a pocket to reveal the name matched. It was quite unremarkable.
This show doesn’t really know what it wants to be, and it fails at every angle it attempts. Its only redeeming feature is that Knight successfully induced a hypnotic trance and, by its nature, live hypnosis is funny. But the hypnosis element is unadventurous, the performer altogether lacks charisma, stagecraft and initiative, there are no jokes, and I’d go as far as to say the magic is the second worst I’ve ever seen on stage.