Phillip Escoffey is one heck of a showman. He teases. He torments. He troubles our senses of reason and tricks us mercilessly. And we eat it all up with glee, thoroughly entertained as he twists our beliefs and disbeliefs about in confusing combinations.
Escoffey walks a fascinating tightrope as he makes a show of dispelling myths about psychic powers while pulling off all manner of psychic stunts – predictions, mind-reading, tarot cards and more.
He performs with such aplomb we became a little concerned about the welfare of the goats at the nearby Royal Melbourne Show. But it’s okay, Escoffey’s show focuses on the lighter side of psychic phenomena – friendly old playing cards, for example – and steers well clear of spooky ouija boards and unseemly US military activities.
But is he really psychic? Probably not. But see – there’s the word ‘probably’! For most of us in the room, Escoffey did one particular thing that defied explanation – and that made us doubt our doubt. And that’s the beauty of his show.
This is a guy who waves his hands in front of your eyes while telling you to watch closely. Who very helpfully explains how he performs some of his psychic ‘feats’ while simultaneously casting doubt on his own explanations.
Us humans are so good at suspending our disbelief that we’ll do it even when we’re being told not to.
Why? Perhaps for the same reason Scully followed Mulder around all those years – because believing is more fun.
Phillip Escoffey – Six More Impossible Things Before Dinner is at the Arts Centre until Sunday 3 October. Presented as part of Melbourne Fringe