It’s the second night of the Fringe, and the Grand auditorium at the Pleasance is packed to capacity to see Colin Cloud.
He’s already on stage before the doors open, locked in a glass container, barely moving.
As the seats fill up and the buzz starts to build, he simply observes.
Showmanship, scene setting, or is he tapping into our most inner thoughts already?
“All three to be honest,’’ he replies.
“When people walk into the room something is already happening– and then when they leave, they go with a lasting memory and an experience.’’
The Fringe is where Colin has honed his act of mentalism, misdirection and increasingly challenging set pieces.
Over the past six years he has moved from the small, upper room at the Pleasance to the venue’s biggest theatre, and filled it night after night.
And the ’wow’ factor at the heart of his shows remains as strong as ever – jaw-dropping moments which just defy logical explanation.
Even up close you can’t see how he deduces the thoughts in your head.
Two years ago I ended up on stage as his volunteer.
All I had to do was pick a card from a large bowl which had sat, untouched, on stage. It contained a destination – one of many filled in as we’d filed into the room.
He asked me to go to there and he’d come and find me.
Oh, and before I left, would I mind taking an antidote to the substance he’d just injected to slow his pulse to almost zero.
As I legged it through the streets of Edinhurgh, the sound of a passing ambulance racing in the direction of his venue had me in a panic that I’d maybe, inadvertently, just killed one of the most talented mentalists and masters of misdirection you’ll ever see.
Ten minutes later he led his entire audience round the corner to where I was standing.
I’m still none the wiser how he did it!
“I want to make the show as immersive as possible, and make sure everyone gets to be involved,’’ he said.
“But, unlike comedians,I can’t rehearse what I do until I get there.
“Every night is different, depending who you get up on stage – that can be a bit terrifying!”
But, pushing boundaries is what he does with every show, and the gasps of disbelief from the audience tell you everything.
He’s come a long way from working with Fife-based Tree Of Knowledge where he worked with many local businesses – today you’ll find him touring and working constantly in the UK and USA.
And 2019 brings him full circle with a live show at the Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline, as part of his Scottish tour.
“It’s amazing and it is my dream job – it’s a dream and a nightmare at the same time.
“I spend nine months in America with The Illusionists’ tour so I am away from family and friends which is tough.
“The glamour of flying around the world playing theatres from 2000-8000 people is incredible, but that means lots of travel – you fly in, go to the gym, grab a coffee, prepare for the show and then you’re back at the airport.’’
That routine is unlikely to change on the back of America’s Got Talent, where Colin wowed the judges and made the sort of breakthrough most performers can only dream about.
“The show was incredible,’’ he said.
“The producers were very understanding about what I do, and that it needed a bit longer to set up.
“They were very wIlling to give me that time ... and it still felt rushed!
“But, I was very happy with how it went. Ive spent a lot of time performing in America, but the show really helped in that when I go on stage people know who I am and what I do.
“It was a great experience.’’
It was also at the epicentre of a non-stop 2018 – and he is already working on NEXT year’s Fringe show.
That process began while performing nightly, and will continue on the road in America,
“I find all the time I can to put new ideas together, and see how I can make the show better,
“I want to try things which haven’t been done before; something maybe a bit controversial, something amazing ... something that stands out as memorable.
“That’s the challenge
“I do feel like I haven’t stopped since last year. I did the Fringe then America’s Got Talent, then a US tour and then straight back to the Fringe!’’
But he wouldn’t have it any other way.
For 2019, Colin is on the road with a Scottish tour which is a ‘best of’ showcase – a perfect introduction for first-time fans, but also a show packed with content for folk who have seen him before.
“It’s work I am most proud of,’’ he said.
“I want to look at the last six one-hour shows I have done at the fringe and and build something that works, theatrically.
“I want to get the best out of the audience reaction no matter when I am performing.’’
>> Colin Cloud: The Forensic Mind reader is at the Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline, on Friday, January 25, 2019.
Ticket info from HERE www.alhambradunfermline.com