Lawrence Leung tells us that there are two kinds of people – the puzzle solvers, and the lovers of puzzles. In Very Strange Things he caters to both types, and to those who sit somewhere between the two extremes.
After delivering a brief history of the debunking of various psychics and mediums, and details of some of their tricks and ruses, he proceeds to astonish and amaze his audience. Besides being an award-winning comedian, writer and director he demonstrates that he is also an accomplished mentalist. He takes us on an entertaining ride through ESP tests, suggestion, trickery, cold-reading and mind games. He lays a wispy trail of clues which, if we weren’t cleverly distracted by the other enigmas he casts our way, could probably lead us to rational explanations of the riddles we are witnessing.
Aside from one example he does not reveal his techniques but certainly leaves us with plenty of ideas and possibilities to mull over. Late in the show he gives us the opportunity to choose between being a puzzle lover or a puzzle solver simply by deciding to close our eyes, or to leave them open.
Lawrence assures us that he has no psychic or special powers and that there is no collusion with members of the audience. Any doubts about the latter tend to disappear when witnessing the shock and bewilderment of the volunteers. Particularly that of the young couple who participated in an experiment designed to show that subconscious links exist between people. He is certainly good at reading body language, and at influencing thought, decisions and perceptions of reality.
Very Strange Things comes across as being very rehearsed but Leung is skilful in making spontaneous alterations when things, or people, go awry.
The show was both entertaining and thought provoking, with much discussion between audience members continuing in the lobby afterwards.
Having moved from a youthful position of wanting to believe, to one of scepticism, Leung says that he is interested in the “psychology of belief, deception, and why people believe weird things”.
As promised this was an “enigmatic night of mind games for game minds”.