Hypnotists have been noticeable primarily by their absence this Fringe. As a genre even more dependent on touching strangers than other performers, it is understandable that many may not have felt comfortable doing shows, or confident that they could get willing participants. Robert Temple is the exception willing to take the gamble. In the simply titled ‘The Hypnotist’, he talks us through some of the theory behind hypnosis and, of course, gives everyone in the audience the opportunity to try out being hypnotised themselves.
Like many hypnotists, Temple devotes time in the first part of his show to discussing hypnotism in theory before demonstrating it in practice. He describes himself as a comedy hypnotist, and this is where the majority of the comedy comes in. Future audiences may be comforted to note that he makes fun of himself far more than any of his participants, and that if he does poke fun at his audience it will be during this first part of the show, when everyone is fully awake.
Perhaps in a bid to flatter the audience on to his stage, Temple describes hypnosis as a function of creativity. This appears to work well for him. At the reviewed show he was working with a relatively small audience, as many performers are at this pandemic Fringe. Given the nature of his act he made sure to warn the audience ahead of time that volunteering to take part would require some physical touch. Nevertheless he easily filled his ten spots on stage with eager participants looking to be hypnotised. Once they were hypnotised, the demonstrations he encourages from them tended toward silliness rather than any kind of public embarrassment.
As is always the risk, perhaps especially in a discipline such as hypnosis, something did go wrong. In this case, one of the participants ‘woke up’ from his hypnotised state unexpectedly early, having a knock-on effect on the others on stage. Temple dealt with this with the apparent ease of a practiced professional, calmly switching a few things around, and of course looking after his participants to smooth their exit from his show.
For those looking to be hypnotised this Fringe, Temple may be the only option. Luckily he’s a great option. His style of hypnosis appears to be reasonably effective on a range of individuals. All go in with the confidence that they will feel safe on his stage, and by the time they leave they can feel confident that their trust in him was justified.