Dr Benji Waterstones' stand-up and slide show is a chipper account of a personal and professional health quest with the sacred plant ayahuasca. A one-man thirty-something band, Waterstones' exudes the self-assured chatty patter of a comedian, and courts the audience in a soothing manner.
The backdrop is set with an overview of his work as an NHS psychiatrist. An incredulous spotlight is turned on the dire lack of funding for mental health research in the UK. Clearly inspired by Sigmund Freud's Cocaine Papers, and the fresh scientific ground being broken into the benefits of LSD and psilocybin, Waterstones wonders "Could ayahuasca be a magic pill for the NHS?". So begins the self-appointed guinea pig's namesake Ayahuasca Diaries, as we go on tour to Peru, where he joins a group to take part in shamanic ceremonies with ayahuasca, a sacred medicine plant for many cultures.
It's a fascinating topic, and without doubt we all have much to learn about how to process our lives better by regularly purging the emotional, psychological and physical debris that can clog our systems. To help keep our energy laser focused on what is truly important.
So how to recount an abstract mystical voyage during an altered state for the good folk of the Brighton Fringe? This is what really makes the show, as Waterstones excels by making good use of visuals to communicate the complex experience. This ranges from well-timed graphical punch lines, snaps from the trip, pages from his diary, and a trippy video interpretation of the actual experience. Waterstones manages both to poke gentle fun and convey the profound magnitude of the experience.
So what was his conclusion, was it the magic bullet he hoped for? You might just have to go and find out. Needless to say it is a life-changing experience, and one apparently available in Norfolk too.
An adeptly pulled off exploration of a complex spiritual experience.