The Psychic Project: David Narayan Recreates Cold War Experiments

Friday 21st June, The Vaults Theatre

If you have gone to the show expecting a mind-reading experience mixed with a bit of good old-fashioned magic, you haven’t read the pitch.

Narayan has used a lot of archival footage and recording to tell the story of Stargate, a secret unit established by the US Government’s Defense Intelligence Agency and a private contractor to investigate and put to its own use the psychic phenomena in military and domestic intelligence gathering during the Cold War.

One of the more mind-blowing aspects of the show is the claim that a branch of the CIA at the time was naive enough to contemplate the possibility of the Soviets using a room-full of mind-controlling psychics to influence US strategy and even the military.

The show, the last one in London, took place at the Vaults, an atmospheric and suitably spooky venue under Waterloo station.

It was a participatory performance in that members of the audience were invited to use their own psychic powers in a variety of experiments, with mixed bag results.

Whether using deduction, intuition or sheer guess, some got it right much to the public’s delight.

David Narayan (Photograph: Richard Merrit)

Narayan himself is a charismatic enough performer to carry the show to some extent, although he came close to running out of steam on a couple of occasions when one participant drew a circle around Antarctica rather than Iraq.

The tour de force of the evening was Narayan using his own powers of perception to guess at one member of the public’s primary fear: homelessness. While this is a visceral fear of us all to some extent, he got it narrowed down pretty well to huge gasps from the audience.

The rest, a mix of magic tricks and perception-led guessing, was par for the course and made for a reasonably entertaining evening.

Author: Julia Florence

Julia Florence is the founder and editor-in-chief of Performance Reviewed.