An Audience with Sally Morgan, from start to finish, was not as we had expected. Too accurate at points to be completely dismissed but too inaccurate at others to be entirely believed, it was nevertheless both compelling and uncomfortable throughout.
Arriving with a combination of scepticism and curiosity, the former was heightened by the slick video montage that greeted the audience at the beginning of the show. Featuring celebrities emphatically pronouncing their faith in Morgan as a psychic, and footage of some of Morgan’s more dramatic spiritual encounters added a sense of initial cynicism to the proceedings, suggesting as it did a commercially minded production eager to capitalize upon the fame of Morgan’s more recognizable clients and the more sensationalist of her readings.
We were surprised then to find Morgan to be personable, sympathetic and unpretentious. Indeed, the content and format of the show largely contradicted the way in which it was marketed. Billed as an ‘ an entertaining…theatrical spectacle’ on the flyer, (which also included a message of thanks from Princess Diana) what unfolded in the Hawth’s theatre was hardly what one might call entertainment, unless it was of the voyeuristic and macabre sort.
An Audience with Sally Morgan consisted primarily of Morgan sensing spiritual ‘visitors’, usually deceased relatives of members of the audience, who would relay via the medium messages and greetings to their loved ones still living on the ‘earthly plane’. In this respect it is hard to see the harm in a medium. If a few members of the audience go away feeling comforted and reassured, there can be little wrong in that. Like a sympathetic aunt, Morgan offered solace for audience participants, many of whom were clearly still grieving the loss of a loved one
What complicated the situation was the fact that highly private moments of frequently intense grief were played out as public spectacle. As mere bystanders one felt more intrusive than anything else. One must also consider the vulnerability of those in the audience, who appeared to have come with the anticipation of communicating with deceased family members and friends. The reality of the impressionability of those with a deep rooted emotional investment in the show is a disconcerting one.
Hannah Guinness and Olivia Wilson