<b>What: Kelvin Cruickshank Soul Food Where: Wel Energy Trust Academy of Performing Arts, Waikato University When: Last night Reviewed by: David Riddell </B>
For someone who is supposed to have access to sources of information the rest of us lack, Kelvin Cruickshank certainly asks a lot of questions.
In Hamilton last night as part of his Soul Food tour, the medium, best known for his regular slot on TV's Sensing Murder, put on a performance which clearly blew away many in the packed house.
He was charming, funny, self-deprecating, and struck up an excellent rapport with his audience.
But can he really talk to dead people?
To me, his performance looked for all the world like a standard cold reading act. Cold reading is a technique in which the reader throws out lots of questions, names and general statements which the recipients make sense of from their own personal experience.
Cruickshank would never say directly who a name referred to, but would ask, "Who's Peter?" and leave the recipient to fill in the gap. Peter turned out to be a mother's cousin. Almost all the names Cruickshank asked about were common – John, Dave, Robert (amazingly, this one got no response), Margaret, Sam, Catherine.
The only uncommon one, Gwen (which happens to be my mother's name) also got nothing at first, but he explained his Aunty Gwen lived in Napier, where it turned out the woman being read had a friend. Sometimes the spirit communicated in this way, he said.
To his credit Cruickshank would often worry away at a miss, determined to turn it into a hit. A comment about Mickey Mouse ears got nothing nor did Disneyland, in fact there seemed to be nothing in the entire United States which had resonance for the woman concerned. In desperation he wonders if the Mickey Mouse ears could be Playboy bunny ears.
Yes, says the woman, she'd recently bought Playboy sheets, because they were on special. Big laughs all round. But he did less well when he went on an extended commentary about how she should look after herself and upgrade her shoes.
As it happened, the shoes she was wearing were brand new. On the other hand questions about a new trampoline for the kids and many others drew no response and were allowed to lapse.
In the nearly-three-hour show there were only a few readings, most of them quite extended. Repeatedly, he told people their loved ones were watching over them and looking out for them. There was plenty of laughter and more than a couple of tears.
It's Cruickshank's hits most of the audience of 300 will remember, and they will no doubt feel the show was worth the $66 a ticket. They will forget the misses, and the fact they provided most of the details themselves.
* David Riddell is a Hamilton member of the Skeptics, also known as the NZ Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.
- Waikato Times