The Victorians used to love novelty acts but they fell out of favour in modern times until the rise of Derren Brown and, most recently, Dynamo.
Now, snapping at their heels is one of the politest and most astonishing entertainers I’ve ever met.
A hundred years ago he’d have been on the music halls billed as The Great Jermay. Today mind-reader and magician Luke Jermay doesn‘t need the sobriquet. He’s not great - he is extraordinary.
DB and Dynamo are huge fans and have hired the psychological illusionist to advise with their own acts. The heavily tattooed Essex boy, just 28, has been a consultant on the smash hit show The Mentalist, he’s played Vegas, the London Palladium, and is the author of several books, the first written when he was just 15.
This week he won more admirers with his Sixth Sense show at Leicester Square Theatre.
He doesn’t talk to dead people or profess some magic ability. With Sixth Sense he leaves the magic in the hat to concentrate on mind-reading – and he is expert at reading people and persuading them to do his bidding.
He’s also not your run of the mill variety act. For a start he stands in the foyer welcoming his audience and is back there at the end to shake everyone’s hand and thank them for coming (though, after reading about the entertainer’s techniques, I’m thinking this cordiality is a major part of the act).
On stage he astounds the crowd. Nothing or no-one is safe.
On Wednesday night he had a 100% record in revealing the birth-dates and star signs of his targets, he knew bank account details, the colour of women’s knickers, plus embarrassing, entertaining and revealing stories snatched from the thoughts of his victims.
It was impossible not to be impressed. I couldn’t begin to see how it was done. Even if he was cold reading his victim’s body language, that didn’t go near to explaining his techniques.
He’s not as charismatic as Derren Brown, and he needs to work on his script for a slicker show, but it’s still impressive.
He could lose the poetry and, if he’s going to bring a group of people on stage, then he should use them all rather than have some sit there looking embarrassed.
Jermay took an innermost thought of one young girl, consigned it to an envelope, and made her suffer throughout the whole show before the big reveal. Only it wasn’t revealed to us which was a huge anti-climax. He could have been asking her for a date for all we knew.