Things To Do in Barnes, Battersea, Cheam, Clapham, Epsom, Fulham, Kingston, Putney, Surbiton, Sutton, Wandsworth, Wimbledon

Sneak Peak of Wandsworth Arts Fringe

Wandsworth Arts Fringe is returning to south-west London this month for 16 days of theatre, music, dance, magic, comedy and more.

In the run up to the event, I caught up with one of the performers due to take to the stage on 5 May, mind reader Chris Wall, and quizzed him on what we can expect from his act ‘Decisions Decisions’ and ultimately to be a willing volunteer for him to practice his routine on.

Chris begins by introducing his style of mind reading, which, he mysteriously explains, all hangs on the day-to-day decisions made by audience members and is akin to the style practiced by Derren Brown.

“Without giving too much away, it’s about studying members of the audience and observing their character, understanding their inner minds and how all this informs the decisions they make, whether it’s with a simple card trick or making a basic 50/50 decision.”

Intrigued, I press Chris for a sneak peak demonstration of what his guests can expect.

For his first trick, Chris asked me a series of questions to free up my mind and ensure my decisions were to be made completely unconsciously. The quick-fire questions were random - the chocolate bar I’d pick in a supermarket, the name of an imaginary staff member who worked there, and the colour of a car on an imaginary street.

With my mind freed up, I was then instructed to pick a card in my mind and visualise it. Chris seemed to study my face before shuffling his deck and letting me pick a card seemingly at random. I was told this card in my hand would be my card. I flipped it over and scribbled on the card was: ‘this is your card’. I was impressed, but Chris insisted: “Bit of a cheap trick but it’s actually for the purpose of distraction...”

Chris then handed me his wallet and asked me to rifle through.  Inside a zipped pocket, inside a sealed envelope which I practically had to rip open, was a card with my word answers from the initial quick- fire question round (incidentally: Twix/Anna/yellow – in case you’re wondering!)

Left puzzled as to how he could possibly have scribbled down my answers, put them into an envelope and sealed it at any moment considering I had my eyes on him the whole time, Chris moved on to his next trick after a seamless shuffle.

Next we both picked a number and suit and imagined our chosen cards in our minds. Chris got me to visualise my card clearly, focusing particularly on the colour, before he leafed through the deck, picking the card he thought I was thinking of, and placing it face-down on the table. Then it was my turn to mind read. Chris got me to hazard a guess as to what his imaginary card was, select it from the remaining deck, and also place it face-down on the table.

I told Chris the card in my mind was the eight of diamonds, before he flipped the card he pulled from the deck to reveal the eight of diamonds.

Chris told me his card was the nine of spades. As I flipped the card over, I was stunned by my mind reading abilities for the card I had selected was indeed the nine of spades.

I can see how Chris’s shows are highly interactive and heavily rely on audience participation, he observes characteristics to such an extent that he can predict your every move, and this skill seems so finely tuned to instinct that the end result is very impressive.

But what strikes me most is how heavily involved the audience are to the extent that they become the magician too. Throughout Chris’s demonstration I had been reading his mind, correctly guessing his cards in what I thought had been a completely random fashion. This is all incredibly exciting for someone with no experience in magic.

“That’s exactly it,” says Chris. “Ultimately, I want people to leave astonished.”

Suitably astonished, I left, but I will be attending on the weekend for a closer inspection to try and figure out Chris’s magical secrets.

Chris is performing on Saturday and Wednesday at Putney Arches from 7.30pm, with tickets on sale from £5.50, and is one of over 170 events taking place in 55 venues across the borough.

Time & Leisure is proud media partner to the Wandsworth Arts Fringe, which takes place 4 to 20 May