(5 stars)

S1L3NC3 is a mysterious gentleman whose art is strikingly difficult to describe. He is insistent that it is not magic, and does not claim any psychic abilities, yet the series of tricks and effects in his performance can only be described as some sort of mind-reading or psychological manipulation. The closest and perhaps only comparison is to Derren Brown, with added darkness. It’s easy to be cynical of such talents, but rest assured that this production will astonish even the most sceptical of viewers.

Obviously the exact nature of the tricks cannot be revealed here, but this reviewer can guarantee that S1L3NC3 will amaze. The tuxedoed performer seems not only able to read minds but also to predict the behaviour of audience participants with uncanny accuracy.

Understated displays of frankly astonishing ‘psychology’ like this are interspersed with set pieces that will have the audience on the edge of their seats: a game of Russian roulette with heavy duty staple guns, for example, not to mention one which involves swallowing razor blades. The faint-hearted among us should perhaps give it a miss.

It is the masterful and non-patronising portrayal of the tricks which gives this show such a great impact. From the outset we are assured that everything will be conducted “as transparently as possible”, and a random selection process is used to prove that viewers chosen to actively participate have not been pre-selected.

The design is similarly kept simple and effective: a smart red and black colour scheme with no fancy props or staging to distract from the action. Carefully selected music, remixed especially for the show, keeps the tension running high at key moments and adds to the very contemporary feel of the performance.

Stories and discussion are elegantly used to link the tricks together into a single coherent show, and the concepts of communication, ‘underground art’ and of course silence are the overarching themes. Look out for the spectacular finale which incorporates these ideas and which will not fail to astound. It is because of the logistical complexity of this last spectacle that the show is unfortunately limited to one night only.

Refreshingly different and ultimately mind-boggling, S1L3NC3 has to be seen to be believed. It comes highly recommended.

9th March, Monday 8th week
O’Reilly Theatre Keble
Tickets available from S1L3NC3@S1L3NC3.com