Melbourne Fringe 2012

Mentalist Robert Haley: Elixir

0 Comments 15 October 2012

Another New Zealander infiltrating Melbourne’s Fringe this year is mentalist Robert Haley. Haley combines a mix of magic tricks and psychological tactics to successfully impress an eagle-eyed audience. Putting this trickery into a narrative so as to give the show a sense of purpose, Haley assumes the character of a fabled elixir salesman, demonstrating his magical concoctions on his awestruck customers-to-be and showing off the magical powers they can gain from just one teaspoon – from x-ray powers to a rendezvous with Lady Luck.


The show is extremely interactive. Each of the elixirs needs a test subject, and of course, Haley picks his subjects from the crowd. Because of the intimacy of the show, no one is safe from being called up for a demonstration. While the wallflowers among us may quiver at the thought, the interactions actually had a very positive influence on the show. There was a real sense of camaraderie between the audience members. Jokes were thrown not just between performer and subjects, but among the subjects themselves.

Haley’s mentalist deceptions are genuinely impressive; his successfully guessing which word an audience member is thinking of without receiving even the tiniest of hints is one of those things that will forever haunt me. And Haley is a likeable showman – his improvised interactions with a chatty crowd were some of the funniest moments of the act. However, there was a weakness when it came back to the scripted anecdotes between trickery and banter.

Before introducing each new elixir, Haley would tell us the story behind how and where this particular potion came from. While he has charisma, Haley is not an actor. I can appreciate that each trick had to be placed within a narrative, but the delivery of these tales just wasn’t natural. It was all too obvious Haley was simply recalling almost-forgotten lines, which regrettably took me out of the stories at times. The performance was at its strongest when it called for improvisation, and it was a shame there weren’t more of those sincere moments. But Haley has an endearing quality that is rare for a magic man, and his damn impressive elixirs managed to redeem any shortcomings of their biographies.

Mentalist Robert Haley: Elixir has finished its run at the Fringe Festival. For more information on Robert Haley’s future projects, visit his website.

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