Comedy Review: Viva Hypnosis By Simon Warner, Epstein Theatre, Liverpool

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Image Source: Epstein Theatre

Written By: Mark Armstrong

Format: Hypnosis
Genre: Comedy
Date: July 22 2016
Location: Epstein Theatre, Liverpool

There can be a feeling of both excitement and trepidation when attending a hypnotist’s show. You never know what to expect, and some unusual situations are almost guaranteed, but what if the hypnotist decides that they want you to be the basis for their performance? It can be a scary prospect to some.

Fortunately, Simon Warner’s Viva Hypnosis show takes the most logical and audience-friendly approach possible. Those in attendance are given the chance to volunteer for participation – and there were plenty of takers at the Epstein – but anyone who for whatever reason may prefer to remain a spectator will not be forced to get up on stage. In other words, those who want to get involved are given this opportunity, and those who want to watch proceedings are welcome to do so. It’s a win-win!

Now that I have removed any fears that you may have about attending this show in the event that you end up being unwillingly spotlighted, you will be equally pleased to know that the show itself is a blast. It’s almost mesmerising to see how a group of perfectly normal people (well, mostly), who are in complete control of their faculties, lose control of their senses to Warner. It happens slowly at first, but it’s clear to see that their words, their actions, their behaviour, hell almost their lives, for the duration of this show, are in the hands of the hypnotist. And as the show progresses, it’s clear that something as simple as a snap of the fingers or a one-syllable word can halt people in their tracks, or get them to do something that, in a normal environment, they would never have the bottle to do.

It’s incredible to see how one person can have such control over a variety of people (and not in a scary cult kind of way). For that reason alone, this show is worth watching, because one can only imagine how a man like Warner could develop the skills to reach the point where he can use words and actions to essentially control the volunteers. But wait, there’s more.

Now, in case you are planning to attend one of Simon’s shows in future, I am not going to spoil things by revealing what the audience members were required to do, because part of the fun is the surprise factor, and how each stage is funnier than the last. I will say, however, that it is hilarious to watch, and it’s fascinating to see how more than a dozen people will all have different reactions to the same situation; some oblige but not to an overpowering degree, whereas others are truly in the zone, so to speak. And it’s even better to know that these are not trained performers. If they were, the show would still be enjoyable; but these people clearly haven’t got a clue what they’re doing, or why they’re doing it. With each part that comes to an end, the volunteers do not react as if they’re “in on it”; they really are in a trance, almost like their bodies have been transported to another world.

Whilst I said that I wouldn’t reveal the finer details of what, erm, activities were chosen for the guests, I will say that anyone planning to attend won’t have to fear being humiliated, or ending up doing something that they deeply regret, or as Simon pointed out beforehand, losing any or all of their clothing (which may actually be a source of disappointment to some; hey, if they’re gonna lose control of themselves, they may want to go all the way!). In other words, if you are hypnotised by Simon, it’s similar to being drunk: you’re more relaxed, you’re care-free, you’ll find yourself behaving in a manner that you never would if you’re sober, but you’re not going to do anything that will result in injury or real embarrassment or a police warrant. And, of course, once the show ends, everyone is back to normal; whether they remember what has happened or not depends on the individuals themselves. (Fortunately, all shows are recorded with participants able to purchase digital copies if they want to see just how they acted during the show. It’ll certainly raise a few laughs over the family dinner at Christmas!)

Whether the show succeeds as an entertainment spectacle can depend on those who participate; if people are only slightly responsive, or they don’t over-do it with their reactions, then it could merely be an intriguing sight to see how one man can control so many other men and women. However, Simon’s approach, along with the impressive production techniques (and some nice dancers to serve as additional eye-candy), and the creativity that he demonstrates in bringing these strangers together and introducing them to unimaginable situations, means that the show as a whole is almost guaranteed to provide entertainment; if the volunteers are truly game for a laugh, then that is the icing on the cake.

To conclude, I would highly recommend that you attend Simon’s show in future. He tours across the country and across Europe too, and as a matter of fact, a holiday destination in, say, Spain would be the perfect place to witness this, because the probable volunteers are already likely to be ready for a good time, resulting in even funnier performances. But whether you see Simon in Liverpool, Edinburgh or Tenerife, you’ll have a fantastically entertaining night. Just don’t be surprised at the funny looks you might get from friends and family afterwards just for doing what Simon says.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent