David Narayan isn’t psychic. So while his show involves mind-reading, it’s by you the audience, rather than him.

Based on the true story of the CIA’s psychic spy research from the Cold War, David allows his audiences to experience what the scientists at the time actually experienced.

His research is based on the programmes running from 1972 to 1995, when the Americans heard that the Russians were conducting research into mind control so the CIA started doing research of their own, recruiting civilians to train as psychic spies.

This carried on, getting increasingly sophisticated, until 1995, when the programme was stopped. Since then, all the research has been declassified.

The documents (hundreds of thousands of them) outline the experiments that they did, the results they achieved and - most interestingly for David - the techniques that they developed to make the psychics more effective.

“It sounds ridiculous, but at the time the US took it very seriously and the they talked about the risk of a growing ‘psychic gap’ between east and west (like the ‘missile gap’ before it),” David explains.

He follows the research programme from its fairly innocent beginnings through to the later stages of the research - when scientists were seeing if they could use the power of the mind to cause physical harm.

“It’s an unusual show,” he concedes “because I’ll be exploring the research and getting the audience to attempt some of the experiments.”

Should we be worried? “We start with relatively basic psychic tests, before moving on to the type of techniques they used in actual operations and in some of the later experiments (which touched on how to cause physical harm). Some of the results have been amazing. For example, audience members have drawn, very accurately, a target that’s at a location that they know nothing about.

“And they really are genuine audience members, nothing’s been set up in advance.”

What’s the most interesting thing that the CIA’s psychic spies managed to do? “Well, there’s a large part of the research that’s still redacted in the declassified documents - that’s to do with altering animal cells (and human cells) with the power of the psychics’ minds.

“The psychics would also describe in detail where hostages were being held. And they would draw, correctly and in great detail, schematics of military installations that they’d never seen.

Is it real? “That’s something I talk about in the show. I think it’s very easy to look back on historic research and say the scientists were being idiots and that we’d never be fooled by something similar. But there are a lot of reasons why the results were so convincing

But, really, I just want people to have an incredible experience - and maybe to question things a bit more afterwards.

“But what I love the most is that the show really is unpredictable. Different things work to different extents each time and the Old Fire Station’s one of my favourite theatres to perform in - I remember it from when I was a student, but it’s been totally refurbished since then and it’s a brilliant theatre.

“The show went really well in 2017 and it sold out, so I was really pleased to be invited back.”

The Psychic Project

Tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday

Old Fire Station, Oxford

Go to oldfirestation.org.uk