In 2020, Samuel Barnett made the surprising discovery that he descends from a long line of mentalists, conjurers, illusionists and magicians.
This revelation led him to spend lockdown studying some of his family’s most famous and celebrated routines and investigating his show-business DNA – learning the trade of his forefathers and researching the family genes that led him to a career on the stage.
Samuel’s new one-man show is born out of this ancestral exploration and the practice of his newly honed craft. In Medium, he presents a magical journey through his family tree and reveals some of the amazing discoveries that he has made along the way.
Samuel is a two-time Tony nominee, for the Broadway productions of The History Boys and Twelfth Night, respectively. He also played the title role in Dirk Gently’s Detective Agency for BBC America.
Medium is at Riverside Studios 9th – 11th December 2021.
You’re bringing your new show, Medium, to Riverside Studios, what can you tell us about it?
Not Much, it’s a show full of surprises that I don’t want to give away. But it’s a show where I’m being entirely myself, no characters, nothing to hide behind.
How did you make the discovery that you were descended from a long line of mentalists?
It’s something I discovered last year, after a loss in the family. I went into a deep dive after I was left with a lot of old scrapbooks and journals that belonged to my grandad.
What inspired you to create a stage show from your discovery?
I felt the need for some closure after some difficult experiences last year. This felt like the perfect way to achieve that.
You were able to spend lockdown studying your family’s old routines, what did you find enjoyable, and also challenging, about doing this?
What I discovered is that I’m very much not a natural at this, but it’s really satisfying to develop new skills after acting for so many years.
How much of the show can you rehearse without an audience, will they play a big part in the production?
During rehearsals, I’ve been delivering this to a sort of imagined audience member. It’ll be weird to get this in front of a full house. This is going to be very much a conventional show, but a sort of work in progress because the audience are integral to helping me to discover what it is I’m creating. It can’t really exist without an audience.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Medium?
If you’ve seen a flyer, an online ad, if you’re reading this interview… This show was made for you.