Most of us are hardened cynics when it comes to magic and illusions. We've seen it all, know the tricks behind the trade, and mildly resent some smartarse making us feel stupid. But still we flock to see it, desperate to outsmart the performer. One performer who will take considerable effort to outsmart is the Space Cowboy.
Appearances can be deceiving. When he arrives on stage with less-than-perfect grace, the audience is lulled into a false sense of security. Space Cowboy is not a natural performer, and can at times feel awkward in the glare of the Umbrella Revolution lights. He stumbles over his phrases, occasionally seems to improvise with the order of his tricks and at times looks like an up-and-coming street performer trying to score some silver off passers by at Southbank.
Once he gets going, however, Space Cowboy is captivating. He starts with a gruesome bit of sword-swallowing that is not for the faint hearted (nor the faint of pancreas) and soon follows with his real party trick: mental telepathy.
The concept is simple, but the results never cease to amaze. First up is a scrunched up ball of paper tossed into the crowd. Tossed again. And then tossed again. The final owner is asked a quick rapid fire question, with a seemingly infinate array of answers. But the answer they chose is written on the very ball of paper that's sitting in their hands. Impressive. Then the shows rolls on, much of it with our host blindfolded to within an inch of his life. Despite his blindness, he is still able to (correctly) name the various words, names and pictures created by a mesmerised audience. Incredible.
The structure to the 'mind reading' illusion is much the same each time: Space Cowboy prompts audience member with question. Space cowboy creates some obstacle or danger. Space Cowboy amazes all by anticipating answer. No matter how often he repeats it, however, the routine never grows tiresome.
The show isn't particularly funny. But it is damn hard to look away.