Saturday night and I’m running through the streets of central Edinburgh to an address written on a piece of card I’ve picked at random from a box. Colin Cloud’s task is to find me.
He didn’t see the card or even touch the box it was deposited in. It was one of several dozen I could have picked.
All he knows I’m within a ten-minute radius ... oh yes, and I have the antidote to the injection he has just given himself live on stage right in front of my eyes,
The sound of an ambulance stopping and doing a u-turn, its blue lights flashing, did spark a moment of panic before Colin, and the show’s audience, turned the corner to complete his mission, streaming it live on social media.
Starting this week, the forensic mind reader will attempt that unique, tense finale every night on the packed streets during at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
His skills as a reader of people are well known. Before you go in, you are handed a card and asked to jot down your date of birth, three words that best describe you, and a funny or amusing anecdote.
Careful what you pen though, as he’ll quickly deduce what you wrote, and then share it with the rest of the audience with jaw-dropping accuracy – a real ‘’how did he do that’’ moment which, no matter how hard you try, you’ll never figure out.
He’s a great showman as well as a man with an-nerving ability to challenge, if not shift, your perceptions, and one with a lifelong fascination with Sherlock Holmes – a link that is central to pushing himself that one step further.
This Festival Fringe show goes well beyond simply reading your thoughts.
In Expose he wants to challenge how we view our world as well entertaining us, and, having done that he then plans to takes his audience out of the theatre in search of an unknown destination.
This is where the Colin brings to life the legendary powers of deduction associated with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous character’s.
Well, last year he effectively killed a member of the audience nightly by stopping their heart beat, so this time he is putting himself on the line.
The idea came halfway through his 2015 Fringe run which earned five-star reviews and full houses, and by listening to his audiences’ feedback.
‘’Fringe shows last an hour, and last year I often over-ran - I felt I wanted to pack more into it, so by taking it out of the theatre and into the streets I can extend the performance,’’ he said.
‘’I also wanted to get back to the time of vaudeville when these sort of stunts were first done. I’ve always been fascinated by them and wanted to put my own spin on them so when we go outside, we also film it live on Periscope.’’
How he locates the person is, of course, the mystery that no-one can solve.
‘’We’ve been asked if there are stooges, trackers, even sniffer dogs,’’ he said.’’There are none.’’
‘’They are at an address picked at random by an audience member from a sealed box - I only know they are within a ten-minute radius but there are hundreds of streets to choose from in Edinburgh.’’
And the fact the volunteer carries the antidote to the injection adds sense of drama and urgency.
‘’It could be potentially lethal,’’ admitted Colin, ‘’We spoke to lots of people before doing it.’’
‘’It has to be dangerous enough but also give me enough time to find the antidote without putting myself at risk.’’
The show was previewed at the recent Festival of Magic in Edinburgh, and was a huge hit with audiences, but it has since undergone some changes.
‘’I’ve tweaked the first half and I’m really happy with it,’’ he said. ‘’I’m really trying to challenge the way people think and how they fit in; there’s a subtle shift from just doing mentalism and comedy. This has an extra element to it.
‘’I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. I want them to have as magical an experience as possible.’’
The show certainly struck a chord with audiences at the magic festival - and their views helped to re-shape it too.
‘’I started planning this half way through last year’s Fringe run, and then I start pulling together ideas to see how they connect
‘‘I was then in London hosting the ‘The Illusionists’ for three months, so I’d grab a few hours in my dressing-room to work on it. I’d also come off stage with all the energy and buzz from the audience and feel motivated. Then I took my 2015 show to Adelaide, and started scoping this one out! ‘‘ With the preparatory work done, the acid test is taking it on to a stage, and that’s where the Festival of Magic came in.
‘’Those first shows were the toughest I do. My brain is thinking about the show, the script, the audience and what they are thinking.
‘‘And I can’t just rehearse sections of this show - I have to do the whole thing. If an audience only sees a few minutes it doesn’t paint the whole picture; it’s like a play as well as a show.’’
It’s also a fascinating, compelling hour of theatre; one in which you are involved in from the very start.
It should be high on your list of ‘must see’ shows
>> Colin Cloud: Expose is at the Med Quad, Underbelly (Venue 302) at the Fringe from August 3-28. Tickets priced £8.
Details at EdFringe