Whose Mind is it Anyway?
  • By Ben Dali
  • |
  • 6th Aug 2019
  • |
  • ★★★★

“An improvised cinematic musical using a cast of actors performing alongside untested hypnotised volunteers expected to act, dance and even rap under the same impromptu conditions as the trained professionals”, you say? Everything about the premise of this show sounds like it shouldn’t work. Yet somehow, everything is crammed neatly into 70 minutes, giving the audience, and especially the volunteers, a classic Edinburgh Fringe moment that they won’t forget, regardless of how many other shows they see.

A classic Edinburgh Fringe moment the audience won’t forget, regardless of how many other shows they see

There really is a lot going on from the get-go, when a producer runs on stage to announce something has gone horribly wrong with their movie and the ‘Hypnotic Director’ must find audience members to fill in for some of the cast. The hypnotist Simon Warner introduces the hypnotic element and invite volunteers up to get induced into a trance. He doesn’t have the characteristics of what one might expect from a hypnotist, more of a highly polished Butlins Redcoat, but he gets the volunteers under his spell efficiently and proficiently so the bulk of the show can focus on the musical.

The cast of five improvisers, complete with two-piece band, take an audience suggestion for the theme of the ‘movie’ – The Good, The Bad and The Fabulous, and set it in an American High School. The improvisational aspect is a little generic – the songs are bland, plot uninvolved and characters one-dimensional. If you’re after a top quality improvised musical comedy this shouldn’t be your first port of call. However, it serves its purpose fine here because the format requires the volunteers to step into the scene and take centre stage.

Warner mostly remains in the background, surreptitiously whispering instructions to his five hypnotics as they effortlessly slot themselves into the musical. I’ve seen a lot of hypnosis shows (and delivered over 100 in Edinburgh Fringe myself) and this has the highest demand on the volunteers that I could even conceive. The volunteers are (quite rightly) the stars of the show, breaking into falsetto climaxes, freestyle rap, making sophisticated call-backs and generally abiding to the core rules of improv which are breath-takingly perfect at times. Less educated audience members might be tempted to consider them plants, but make no mistake, this is a genuine display of the phenomenon of hypnosis. That being said, it’s likely that some volunteers are more accustomed to the stage here than they might be if the show toured to your local town.

The show made some interesting creative decisions, including setting the movie in America – adding cultural adaptation to the already high expectations on the volunteers – and full five-minute scenes between the real actors that did not make use of the volunteers at all, and did nothing to enhance the show. The live keyboard used for the induction and throughout the musical did much to set the right mood for the event, which certainly had many five-star moments and belly laughs from the entirety of the audience.

Reviews by Victor Black

Assembly George Square Studios

Randy Feltface: Alien of Extraordinary Ability

Just The Tonic at the Caves

MARVELus: All the MARVEL Movies... Kind Of!

Assembly Checkpoint

Magical Bones: Soulful Magic


Bubble Show for Adults Only

Underbelly, Cowgate


Pleasance Dome

Chris Turner: Rap God


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

The improvised hypnotised musical movie! Half the cast of the latest Hollywood blockbuster haven't arrived on set and with just one hour left to wrap the movie... what will our hypnotic director do? Simple, throw away the script and start again! Join our cast of hilarious all-star improvisers, as they join forces with hypnotised audience volunteers to create a brand-new blockbuster movie – complete with fully improvised cinematic score – premiering every single night! The only way you're going to sleep through this movie... is if you are in it! Lights, music, improv, hypnosis, action!

Most Popular See More

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets