Pavilion's Powers of persuasion

PETER Powers has been wowing audiences with his his ability to bend minds - and sometimes bodies - into incomprehensible positions for the past 25 years.

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Peter Powers has been a hypnotist for 25 years
Peter Powers has been a hypnotist for 25 years

The master hypnotist has grown from being an outsider from the north of England to a Pavilion Theatre legend.

However, he reveals his very first show there was almost cancelled.

"I was just about to become a father," he says, smiling in recall.

"My wife went into labour the night before my first appearance at the Pavilion on February 22, 1989.

"I had been up all night with her, but I didn't want to cancel the show. So after my baby boy was born, I drove up to Glasgow from Bolton, with the windows open to keep me awake."

There was only one problem with that first show, besides the exhaustion.

"I didn't understand the Glaswegian accent," he says, grinning.

"It was so strong. And to be fair, the audience had a bit of a problem with mine.

"But what really took me back was the bad language. Even the girls were swearing like troopers. It took me a while to get used to that."

Peter had to contend with the legacy of Robert Halpern, who had become a legend at the theatre until his disappearance, which is still a mystery to this day.

"I had to find a different way to connect with the audience. And what I did was come up with the idea for a naughty show, starting at midnight. And it sold out for weeks ahead."

Peter also tried to pack a lot of content into the show.

"One of my observations about Robert was that he was such a good showman, such a funny man, he could go 40 minutes without anyone being hypnotised.

"I wanted to get into the hypnosis as fast as possible. But Robert had set the tone, where the audience were prepared to laugh at themselves."

He adds: "Glaswegians are more keen to send themselves up than any other audience. The English and the Irish less so, but Scots and Aussies are up for anything."

The real challenge for Peter was to come up with content that had Glaswegians holding their sides with laughter.

He admits over the years he has been a little sadistic with the Glasgow punters who are game for a laugh. He said: "I loved it when I've had people believe they are in an inflatable dinghy, and they're lost at sea.

"I've had them rowing and sweating and mildly stressed for a whole interval. And when the audience come back, these people are still rowing.

"I've done the same stunt in other parts of the world. And the audience come back and feel sorry for those in the 'dinghys'. But not in Glasgow."

The punchline to the story sees Peter tell the rowers there's a rescue plane on the way.

And he plays the sound of an aircraft engine. Then it dies away. He gets them out of the boat and swimming hard for dry land. But the next sound the rowers hear is the music from Jaws. Now they think they're about to die. Wicked.

"It is a bit," he says, laughing. "I love a bit of abject cruelty, so long as it's funny."

Peter Powers has been developing his talents from the age of 12 since he watched a character on TV hypnotising people by swinging his gold fob watch.

Peter's dad had a fob watch, so he borrowed it and tried to hypnotise his brother. It worked.

Young Peter then set to work on his friends.

By the age of 18, he was performing at a small pub in Manchester. Now he is a massive theatre and TV story in Britain and in Australia.

But he loves performing in Glasgow. He said: "Glaswegians are naturally funny. Every one of them. I only have to listen to conversations to be laughing.

"And you can guarantee if I get someone on stage, they'll come out with a great one-liner."

n Peter Powers, The Pavilion, tonight and until March 8.

Arts and Entertainment

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