Tom Binns is Ian D Montfort: Psychic Fayre | Review by Hilary Wardle
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Tom Binns is Ian D Montfort: Psychic Fayre

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Hilary Wardle

One thing’s for sure, Tom Binns makes an extremely convincing psychic. His white-clad creation Ian D. Montfort is half Shirley Ghostman and half Derek Acorah, with a gift for gently undercutting his initial guesses about the audience that leaves everyone in stitches, even his victims.

When we arrive, he asks us to write down our name, a secret we’ve never admitted to anyone and a question we want to know the answer to inside a small card. Though he never appears to read these admissions, he uses the info to carry out extremely convincing ‘readings’ on his assembled audience that combine over-the-top, slightly camp effusions of sympathy with witty takedowns and remarks that are so sharp and perfectly timed that even Tom doesn’t seem to see them coming.

In fact, due to Tom’s sheer skill at cold reading and the various tricks of the TV psychic’s trade, this parody occasionally comes dangerously close to turning into an exact recreation. Great if you like that particular form of entertainment, less amusing if you’d rather cut your own arm off rather than watch an episode of Crossing Over with John Edward.

However, it’s all so intelligently and wittily done that it’s impossible to divert your attention from the stage even for a second. Even a girl getting up to visit the loo is met with a wide eyed, shocked stare and a cry of ‘what do you want from me, spirit?!’. He also manages to squeeze in an important message at the end about the way psychics manipulate vulnerable people into thinking that these vague readings are relevant to them, and makes a few jokes about how easy it is to set up a psychic practice.

It’s good to get confirmation that he’s not secretly fleecing people, as with his obvious talents for cold reading he could probably make a few quid from private readings. From predicting what an audience member has drawn to guessing which number is on a hidden dice, at times you can’t help but wonder if he’s actually for real. Thankfully, Ian selects a ‘designated sceptic’ to keep us all right, an older chap called David who helps out by regularly piping up that he’s not convinced (leading Ian to criticise his ‘negative energy’). He even makes him wear a special sceptic badge.

Despite his occasional tendency to veer away from character comedy towards mainstream psychic/mentalist trick show entertainment, Tom’s excellent characterisation and barbed comments mean that this is one show you shouldn’t miss. Unless you have any secrets to hide, that is.

Review date: 24 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Hilary Wardle

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