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Brain hacks and tinfoil hats

Wednesday, 12th February, 2020 3:52pm

Normally a tinfoil hat won't save you from much. The exception might be hypnotist, mentalist, and illusionist Keith Barry's new show.

He returns to Cork as part of a national tour of his brand new show Insanity, which draws inspiration from historical figures throughout history who were insane, psychotic, and often geniuses.

Famed for magic tricks and hypnosis, this show sees Keith take a new direction, and hack people’s minds, revealing interesting things about their past. Exploring the minds of these mad figures, Keith brings audience members into the act and has them participate in his exploration of insanity.

“I talk about the great Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, who was famous for painting ‘The Scream’. It turns out he was going through electro-shock therapy coupled with psychoanalysis for bouts of insanity while he was painting it. So every night I give somebody a psychoanalysis while they electro-shock me on stage. That was born out of my research on him,” said Keith.

“It’s my craziest and most insane show to date. It really is. This show is different to any other show I’ve done in 19 years of touring. In the first part of the show, I explore people from history who have been deemed insane, and all the demonstrations are drawn from that,” said Keith.

Keith also explores the psychology of famed surrealistic painter Salvador Dali, whose methods involved drinking absinthe and staring at a candle flame, with his hand held over the flame for extended periods, inducing hallucinations and insanity. “Every night I get someone up on stage and give them a shot of absinthe and they enter a state of insanity where they believe that Salvador Dali has taken control of their mind, body, and soul. And that’s just the first half of the show,” continued Keith.

The second part of the performance will involve Keith turning the tables on the audience, having them think about the most insane things they’ve ever done. He then hacks their brains to reveal the craziness within, and bring the audience on is journey through insanity. However this show will offer attendees the opportunity to opt out of Keith’s brain hacks.

“All they need to do on their way into the Everyman is make and wear a tinfoil hat at our tinfoil hat station. If they wear a tinfoil hat, they can be absolutely guaranteed I’ll leave them alone in the audience. So they can kick back, relax, and enjoy the show,” said Keith. “But we don’t leave enough tinfoil for everybody.”

The limited quantity of tinfoil ensures there are members of the audience with their minds exposed. However on the tour so far, Keith has found no shortage of brains willing to be hacked.

“A lot of people think it’s a joke, and don’t bother wearing a tinfoil hat. And then they find themselves landing on stage, and it’s not an option at that stage. It’s only an option on the way into the theatre. After that, if you’re not wearing a tinfoil hat you’re absolutely fair game,” continued Keith. “I reveal all kinds of craziness. But it’s all done tongue in cheek.”

Keith’s creative process involves locking himself in a cabin at the end of his garden (if it’s at all possible to lock him in). There, he undergoes an exhaustive process of researching and writing a new show. Speaking about his method, Keith said: “I lock myself in there and don’t sleep. When I say don’t sleep, I mean I really don’t sleep. I could be in there for 21 hours a day for six weeks.”

Between tour dates, Keith is also in pre-production of season two of his TV series, ‘The Keith Barry Experience’.

Insanity is in the Everyman Theatre on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 February, with an extra date announced on 13 March. Tickets are €30, and the show begins at 8pm.

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