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We Get Illusioned By A Mentalist

Philip ‘The Mentalist’ Escoffey pops in for a chat... and to blow our minds

Written by . Published on October 3rd 2013.


We Get Illusioned By A Mentalist
 

MAGIC descended on Confidential towers in August.

We’re not talking a kid's party, scoffing Monster Munch and poking other kids in the eye while some washed-up and potentially alcoholic clown pulls Poundshop balloons out of his anus kind of magic.

Showman or not, if this was the sixteenth century they’d have burned this Mentalist at the stake. If I was him, I’d never visit Kenya. Or Papa New Guinea for that matter.

This was the real McCoy, well, as real as any form of illusion can be. But one thing’s for sure, there was a fair bit of head scratching going on when this Mentalist left the building.

Philip ‘The Mentalist’ Escoffey is one-seventh of The Illusionists, a rabble of seven world-renowned magicians banded together to bend the mind, drop jaws and thoroughly frustrate us cynics the world over.

Here's Philip on the BBC just before he came to see us:

"We’re trying to do for magic what Cirque du Soleil did for circus" Philip said, “It’s contemporary, it’s edgy and aesthetic. If you’re into magic then it’s as good as it gets.

"I’ve always been very wary about joining anything like this. Anything too branded. I’ve always done my own thing, my own shows. But then I saw who was doing the show, some of these guys are pillars of magic."

Launched in January 2012, The Illusionists: Witness The Impossible have performed sell-out shows across Australia and South America, seen by 73,000 people in Sydney and Mexico City alone.

So what’s Philip bringing to proceedings?

"What apart from looks, charm and sophistication? Well, they’ve called me The Mentalist (obviously they’ve never seen Alan Partridge), some people may call it mind-reading or psychic powers, I just do what I do and let other people hang their coat on whatever hook they want. I’m not going to say what it is."

Spotting my innate scepticism for any hocus-pocus voodoo wizardry, The Mentalist eyed me up as a prime candidate for a demonstration:

"So let’s do something. I can sense that you’re at the sceptical and rational end of the spectrum rather than the wide-eyed, open-mouthed end. Do you think psychics exist?"

"No."

"Right good. You’ve closed the door, quite right too. So this is a good one for the skeptics (he hands me a cube, six sides, all different colours), one of those colours will appeal to you more than any other. Can you confirm there is one?"

"Yes."

"It’s black."

Bugger (he was right).

Philip then proceeded to outwit me another two times. But this time with his back turned, my hands entirely covering the cube and the colour but a hue in my head.

With odds of 1/216 this was impressive stuff. It got better.

Asking our Editor, Jonathan, to shuffle an invisible pack of cards, The Mentalist instructed Sales Manager, Alan, to pick an invisible card, from the invisible deck, in his head, and lie to him about the suit of the card. So far so weird.

The invisible deck of cardsThe invisible deck of cards

He then asked Jonathan what he imagined his invisible pack of cards to look like.

"I imagined them with a red pattern on the back" replied Jonathan.

"That’s a shame," continued the Mentalist, "because this pack in my pocket have a blue pattern on the back… Alan what was that invisible card that you were imagining?"

"The seven of spades" Al replied.

The Mentalist then proceeded to shuffle through his blue packet of cards; eventually coming across Al’s seven of spades, face up. Not only that, but it was the only card in the deck to have a red patterned back. Gasp.

Right, that’s three of us thoroughly turned over. On to Body Confidential Editor, Lynda.

"Lynda, think of an object. It has to be a noun, it has to be an object. Write it on the paper, beneath the table and keep it to yourself. Right I’m going to ask you a series of questions and I want you to answer yes or no. But in your head."

Lynda proceeded to do all of this.

"Ok do you have more than one of these in your house?"

She said nothing.

"Could I fit more than one of these in a supermarket trolley?"

She still said nothing.

Surely he had to get one of these wrong at some point.

"It’s a fork."

Forking hell, he’d only gone and got it. Again (Here's a video of the BIG reveal... and my rubbish camera work):

I wouldn’t have been doing my job if I hadn’t asked, "How do you do it?"

Philip’s knowing grin conveyed he had been asked this very same question incalculable times.

“It wouldn’t be more interesting for you to know how it’s done, rather than to see the trick itself. I say sometimes that we’re the opposite of swans. What we do is actually quite easy when you know how, it’s just that we make it look very difficult. We’re showmen.”

Showman or not, if this was the sixteenth century they’d have burned this Mentalist at the stake. If I was him, I’d never visit Kenya. Or Papa New Guinea for that matter.

The cast of The Illusionists is as follows: Dan Sperry ‘The Anti Conjurer’, Jinger Leigh ‘The Enchantress’, Andrew Basso ‘The Escapologist’, Mark Kalin ‘The Gentleman’, Kevin James ‘The Inventor’, Jeff Hobson ‘The Trickster’ and Philip Escoffey ‘The Mentalist’.

The show opens at the Blackpool Opera House on the 27 September and comes to the Manchester Apollo from the 4-5 October. Tickets £35 - £45 available here.

See more from Philip Escoffey here.

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