Like any show involving audience participation, a stage hypnosis show depends to some extent on whether the audience play ball. Of course, the skill of the performer is in keeping the plates spinning whatever may transpire and Dali, a Free Fringe regular, looks like he’s got this. There’s times when the audience isn’t so sure, but Dali’s patter is full of assurance of what we’re about to see.
There’s something of the old-fashioned showman about the man, with his showbizzy three-piece suit and rigorous approach to pitching what is to come. You half expect him to say, “and now, I will saw this lady in half” or “behold, as I swallow these swords” instead of beckoning volunteers on to the stage to be hypnotised.
Tonight’s dozen are a mixed bag. This is a beerier crowd than Dali will have had in his previous afternoon shows; some of the drowsiness in their eyes might not be hypnosis. As Dali works his way through the process, inviting the audience to do likewise if they choose, a couple are instantly gone, one girl flopping straight down into her own lap and in danger of tumbling off the chair. Several others sit there unmoved until Dali shepherds them off the stage, careful not to disturb the remaining few. It’s here the audience need most reassurance, because some of them look potentially disruptive, and Dali keeps it all under control.
At last, we’re left with five with which to amuse ourselves, or for Dali to extract amusement from. Tonight’s games include giving them electric shocks, convincing them they’ve won the lottery, making them talk alien language and lots of dancing, which has the most impact. Two lads end up grinding against each other and the head-in-her-lap lass takes action dances to hilarious levels. There’s some moments where they’re told to act sexy, but nothing X-rated here. There’s no need. With the right group of mates, and more specifically with the right mate on the stage, you’ll be laughing all the way home anyway.
There’s more hard sell than normal at the end of a free show and with reason. The stage hypnosis game isn’t a big payer, and Dali confesses he’s going into teaching in September. Teaching’s gain is Fringe cabaret’s loss. Dali has this down pat.