In Entertainment, News

All good mysteries start with an impossible situation being posed. This is no different. The mystery in question here is how did a shy kid from the middle of nowhere in Scotland become the newest Las Vegas Strip headliner?

You know the feeling you get before you have an important test to take? Or when you’re standing in front of an audience to talk about something you are passionate about? Time seems to be moving in slow motion, yet 1 million mph simultaneously? Adrenaline and cortisone rush in, your reptilian brain takes over, and you just hope you are performing at your best?

I can only explain it as an out-of- body experience, where you feel like you are leaving yourself at the door and someone or something takes over. That feeling? It’s often referred to as “situational anxiety” or “test anxiety.”

Well, imagine that lasting most of your life. That’s how it’s felt so far. Maybe I’ve always felt like I’ve had something to prove, but that drive to constantly be better is undoubtedly what’s landed me here.

So, let’s start at the beginning. I spent my childhood fascinated with Sherlock Holmes, skimming stories to find examples of him doing “the cool stuff.” I was fascinated with how he was able to know impossible facts about strangers and will never forget the day I was told he was a fictional character. Gutted.

But, by then, it was too late. The “Sherlock” bug had bitten me, and I knew I would spend the rest of my life trying to find my own ways to replicate his unique skills. I was accepted to study forensic investigation at the University of Glasgow at age 15 and started at 16. By then,  I was watching “CSI” religiously and becoming engrossed with Las Vegas culture. It was the first time I really saw my two worlds merge – the science and the performing.

In my early 20s, I’d finally built up enough confidence to perform my own show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. If you have never heard of Fringe Fest, it is the biggest performing arts festival on the planet. It is basically like a mini-Vegas in a 1,000-year- old city that most definitely is not designed to host 4,000 daily shows.

Since 2011, I have written and performed 10 one-man shows in which I have killed a member of the audience (nightly and without legal im plications), survived a lethal game of “Hide and Seek” and even manipulated a nation through social media. It was quite a journey full of sold-out runs and reviews.

The one-man shows got the attention of “The Illusionists,” where, for four years, I performed in London’s West End, on Broadway and across America. That final Broadway run reacquainted me with the master of sleight-of-hand, Shin Lim, who invited me to join him at The Mirage in Las Vegas.

I remember being terrified on opening night of “Limitless.” Audiences were coming to see Shin, and the type of magic I was showcasing throughout the show is opposite his style. How were they going to react to me? Thankfully, they were stunned. Since 2019, we have been a formidable duo, astounding audiences with our mix of mentalism and card wizardry.

When Caesars Entertainment approached me with the opportunity to open my own show, I jumped at the oppor tunity faster than Sherlock jumping off Reichenbach Falls. In a city routed in gambling, it was finally time to risk the most important gamble of them all – on myself. My run with Shin ends July 1, and, on July 2, I will cross the street and open my own show, “Mastermind,” at Harrah’s Las Vegas.

Sherlock Holmes said, “You see but you do not observe.” Well, for the first time in my life, it feels like the situational anxiety is gone, and I’m able to observe and enjoy every step of this process. To be honest, the biggest and most exciting challenge has been deciding what routines to take from all the Edinburgh shows to create the greatest “best of” show I could possibly create.

I feel like I’m finally home (I resisted the temptation to say “Holmes”). I’ve never felt more prepared as a performer to deliver a world-class performance, and I truly cannot wait for people to come and experience some thing unlike anything they have witnessed before. I promise.

If You Go

“Mastermind,” 6 p.m. daily. Starting July 2.

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