Magician and actor Sam Lupton is happy to have achieved his ambition of performing on Chambers Street in the Old Town of Edinburgh, Adam House a four-storey neo-classical building which rises above the “old city,” the catacomb of vaults and passages which run beneath much of that part of the city, supposedly haunted and serving as a ghoulish tourist attraction all year-round.
Quoting Nietzsche and Lovecraft, that “fear is the mother of morality,” “the most basic form of human emotion,” Lupton recounts his own early experiences of fear and suggests that we are all obsessed with it, going on to present for his more enlightened audience examples of what would have thrilled and terrified the more credulous attendees of a séance in the Victorian era, the height of spiritualism.
The stage set simply, with three small tables carrying a bell, a book and a candle, the items used to conduct an excommunication though this is never referred to, the opening of Séance: Live is inauspicious, Lupton already on stage in a crumpled t-shirt as he ruffles through the envelopes containing cards the audience have kindly filled in, creating neither a sense of occasion nor the impression that the demonstrations, impressive though they sometimes are, will be undertaken in laboratory conditions.
A member of the audience selected, along with “Sarah, invisible spirit child” she assists in feats where Lupton demonstrates psychic abilities requiring a low burden of evidence, and the evening is scattershot rather than structured with digressions into the story of Mister Splitfoot and the Fox Sisters and Edinburgh’s own alleged history of ghostly apparitions, but with a finale where the host abandons rather than astounds his audience the only thing which can be regarded as proven is the eagerness of the masses to believe the fantastical.
Séance: Live runs at Gilded Balloon on Chambers Street until Sunday 27th August