In Moment of Truth, James Freedman opens with an air of mystery. He offers a brief history of electronic lie detection and introduces an old-fashioned polygraph machine. We’ve all seen them in TV shows and movies, and heard about their effects in real life application through daytime television, but how many of us have seen one functioning in real life? My guess is very few, and it’s an intriguing and enticing way to start the proceedings.
Freedman is clearly at the top of his game as one of the world's leading performers in his field
The polygraph test is not used to its fullest, acting as more of a gimmick and prop for Freedman’s storytelling than in the full capacity we might hope. But the pieces Freedman performs are stimulating, and he delivers a well written script to perfection, providing an education for his audience as he addresses and debunks common tropes regarding honesty and fraud.
This show is a tough one to classify, as it amounts to something of a one-man variety show, working through a range of entertaining skills, including pickpocketing, lockpicking, and fraudulently accessing personal information. In a similar vein to classic Derren Brown, it’s hard to know when we are witnessing the skill Freedman professes to display, or different skills such as magical and misdirection or psychology and showmanship. Perhaps it doesn’t matter, so long as we are entertained. And we are.
It should be noted that while the show is promoted as comical, there are fewer laughs than you might hope for. Freedman is charming and well-spoken but lacks the archive of off-the-cuff remarks and witty repartee of a seasoned stage magician (which he does not claim to be, despite performing a degree of magic). This show feels like something of an interactive TED Talk, and there are certain segments of the hour where one might benefit more from watching on Youtube than sitting in a quiet room while Freedman works away – watching and waiting, neither awkwardly, nor suspensefully.
The show is interesting and entertaining throughout, and Freedman is clearly at the top of his game, as one of the world's leading performers in his field, narrow though it is. One does get the feeling that this show isn't his finest work, it is a little disjointed at times and has the occasional lull. You’ll come away learning a thing or two about security measures though, and it will certainly educate you in how to better protect yourself from the scumbags of this world. Well worth a watch for the intellectually inquisitive among us.