Shane Gillen’s Mind Heist at Smock Alley

The word ‘magician’ tends to conjure up an image of waistcoated gentlemen pulling furry animals from hats. I have nothing against aforesaid gentlemen (especially if there is a chance of a free bunny) but Shane Gillen is in a different league altogether. Gillen is more mentalist than magician – although some of his feats are so baffling that at times magic seems to be the only explanation.

Mind Heist is a show that focuses on suggestibility and the idea of choice. The choices that we make every day, Gillen explains to us, are not as free as we imagine, but are dictated by the options that are given to us. How Gillen transmits and controls these options to the audience members that join him on stage, however, is a mystery. The first half of Mind Heist shows off Gillen’s ability to apparently read minds; he guesses dates and predicts the future.

The second half of the show takes a more serious turn. Driven by a spooky plot and aided by the evocative backdrop of Smock Alley Boys’ School, this was the part of the show that made the hairs raise on the back of your neck. Involving Ouija boards and ghost stories, Gillen uses the story of the original ‘mind heist’ to perform a hugely atmospheric series of supernatural tricks and mesmerism.

Gillen himself is a good performer that lets his feats speak for themselves. Instead of the slick, rehearsed style of Derren Brown and other tv magicians, Gillen is personable and winning, a style which he uses to great effect. Its only a matter of time before we see Shane Gillen on bigger stages – and probably our television screens as well – so now is the time to catch him in the intimate venues of Dublin before he… disappears. (Well, kind of…)

Clara Kumagai

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