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Ian D Montfort: Spirit Comedium

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Marissa Burgess

As a follow-up to his hapless hospital radio DJ Ivan Brackenbury, Tom Binns created Ian D Montfort, Sunderland's foremost psychic, resplendent in New Age long hair and goatee, jeans embroidered with an elaborate dragon and a cotton shirt probably purchased in Thailand. He certainly looks every inch the part.

He’s put even more effort into the show itself. Rather than just be a crap psychic who's constantly getting things wrong to comedic effect, he has, in fact, learned some tricks of the trade. And very well too, throwing in a few jokey red herrings at first then hitting the crowd with some spot-on information, causing audience members around the room to frequently snort and laugh, embarrassed but amazed.

Given his past pedigree, including his 2007 award nomination for Ivan, and considering how ripe psychics are for lampooning, this second Montfort outing, was a little disappointing. Perhaps the Pleasance Above is too big for the kind of intimacy this requires, if you're sat at the back you risk missing out on the nuances.

With a couple of exceptions much of the show is spent cold reading the audience, picking on an apparently random individual and letting slip information gleaned about them from where they live or who they've been bitching about. It's a great feat and fine trickery but Binns repeats it several times over, with different members of the audience. So if you have an idea of how he's doing it or you're the type of person who is unimpressed by magic tricks, watching this unfurl can become a little dull.

As his bored assistant yawns in the show you find yourself doing the same. It feels somewhat churlish to add that there was a lack of energy in the room as Binns is perfectly in character, speaking softly, but it made for difficulty in both hearing and engaging with him from the very back row.

He does however vary the 'mind reading' skills with the addition of a trick featuring audience member's mobile phones and the sudden magical appearance of an audience member's details – an unexpected trick that does make for impressive viewing. Best of all, though, are some fine and sharp one-liners derived from ‘talking to the dead’… creating those is his best feat.

Review date: 27 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Marissa Burgess

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