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Derek Acorah

TV Spirit Medium
New Theatre, Tue February 26th 2008 & Tue March 3rd 2009

February 27, 2008
“For those who believe, no proof is necessary; for those who don’t, no proof is possible.” These are the words of Sam, Derek Acorah’s sprit guide (I Googled this phrase and they are also the words of a few other psychics, mediums and stain-removal manufacturers), which are plastered across the banner that forms the backdrop to the stage on which Acorah communicates with the spirit world and, rather sweetly, the animal kingdom. The words perplex me – are all sceptics to remain sceptics and all believers to be easily manipulated into believing anything they’re told?

On the stage also were a couple of rotating disco lights which launched into action whenever a deep semi-American voiceover introduced Acorah to the audience. Strange, I think, that it was thought necessary to embellish an act where a man speaks with dead people (and dogs); is it not fantastic enough in itself? I also found it bizarre to be sitting in a theatre watching a man communicate with spirits while people around me were eating wine gums and drinking pop.

Derek Acorah is a well-known and well-loved psychic. He appears frequently on television programmes, the most famous being Most Haunted where Acorah is wheeled out on various ghost hunts to identify who from the spirit world has come through to our atmosphere. He does this with the help of Sam, who, as I understand, lived on Earth over 2000 years ago in Ethiopia. I developed an unhealthy addiction to Most Haunted last year. At one point Most Haunted was television most nights of the week, and in addition to becoming too scared to go to the bathroom alone, I became enchanted by Acorah, not so much for his physic powers but more for his charm: he’s a very engaging character. Wolf whistles were launched at him as he returned to the stage after the interval in a dapper cream suit and a la mode footwear.

I wondered whether Acorah’s ability to use positive suggestion and charm was perhaps where his real power lies. Is it possible that he could use encouragement to make people believe that he’s communicating with their loved ones, rather than proof? He punctuates almost every sentence with ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘if I may’, and everyone’s his ‘love’ or his ‘darling’. However, as I too have learned in life, charm can only get you so far. Throughout the evening Acorah made some observations and connections that were just too specific to be flukes. A true sceptic could suggest that there were plants in the audience, but the reactions, including tears, laughter and subtle nods of recognition, were evidently genuine.

I would love to believe that there is life after death, but despite Acorah’s best efforts I’m still not completely convinced; I don’t know what’s holding me back exactly. I found the evening fun, at times emotional but mostly it was Acorah’s ability to entertain and engage people that genuinely fascinated me. He’s a real people person, which is why it’s perhaps odd that he spends such a large part of his existence hanging out with spirits. All in all, a strange but pleasant evening.
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