“I have a feeeeling,” intones Keith Barry, one hand cupped behind an audience member’s head and one arm in the air. “I have a feeeeeeeling.” He goes on to describe the man’s grandmother, including how old she was when she died, her personal style, and her advice to him to chew his food properly. Barry writes a name on a piece of paper. “Was her name Lily?” The audience member is stunned. Is Barry psychic? No, and he claims not to trust psychics (even going on a short rant about them), but how else could he know that the woman twelve rows back is wearing blue underwear, and that the brunette in the corner is wearing Elle MacPherson intimates?
Keith Barry is a mentalist, a practitioner of the ancient arts of intuition and hypnotism. He has worked his magic on Bob Geldof, Charlize Theron and Samuel L Jackson, but at the Bruce Mason Centre on August 8, 2012 Barry kicks of his debut New Zealand show by hacking into the brain of a fourteen year old boy. After performing some impressive numerical tricks he brings the boy close to him and then – pow! – hypnotises him. The boy sways slightly from side to side.
“It’s like being stoned, isn’t it?” says Barry.
“Yeah,” grins the boy.
He’s cocky, he’s Irish, and he’s not afraid to put his money where his mouth is. He brings three men up on stage and allows them to blindfold him with duct tape and a steel mask. Somehow, he can still tell that one of them is holding an iPhone with a skull on it, one of them is holding a wallet, and one of them is holding a sword. Still blindfolded, he gives the men three thousand dollars. They pass it around between themselves and then each clasp their hands behind their backs. One of them is holding the money. If Barry can’t figure out who, the men can keep it. But Barry does figure it out of course, and it’s feats like these and the many card tricks he plays that make casino managers nervous.
Many tricks are played with many willing audience members, but the piece de resistance is ‘the spike game’. Barry throws a beach ball into the audience to choose his next victim and it happens to hit Rog from The Rock smack in the face. Rog starts to look nervous when he realises that Barry has turned four paper cups upside down, and one of them is covering a sharp spike. Rog mixes the cups around and promptly forgets which one is covering the spike. Tension rises further when Barry points out that in the wrong hands, the spike game can end in disaster (and advises searching ‘magic gone wrong’ on Youtube for evidence). Barry smashes Rog’s hand down over one, two, three cups. Luckily for Rog the fourth cup is concealing the spike and he quickly returns to his seat, looking as though he’s about to pass out.
‘Brain Hacker’ is two hours of masterful entertainment. There are still tickets available for the Wellington show, so if you’re into the weird and the wonderful it’d be worth heading along. There are plenty of opportunities to participate if you want to (one involving sambuca and tequila), and plenty of ways to hide if you don’t. But whatever you do, make sure you wear your nicest knickers.
Kathryn van Beek
Keith’s WELLINGTON show will change venue, moving from the Opera House to Illot Theatre, 111 Wakefield St, Te Aro, Wellington.
There is no change to the show date which remains as Monday August 13.
Tickets will be valid for the new venue, Illot Theatre, without need for exchange.