He’s been called the scariest man alive, admits he’s not psychic and is adamant he can’t read minds. In fact, his honest and pragmatic explanation of what he does only makes him more unsettling.
Derren Brown’s art is psychological illusion, misdirection and suggestion, aided by some basic conjuror’s principles, but it’s sharp, hugely entertaining and is guaranteed to have you wondering, at least once: “How the **** did he do that?!”
This latest tour, Something Wicked This Way Comes, prior to a West End run, is backed by his new television series Trick of the Mind, and offers more slow burn than his previous live show. His first national tour delivered apparent mind-reading, telepathy and a dose of Ouija board spiritualism.
Now the entertainment is more drawn out, more visual, featuring stunts Brown admits he can’t perform on the television. So he hammers a number 13 nail up his nose; walks across broken glass; counts the exact number of coloured buttons on a tray in a split-second glance after being slapped around the face.
He also states from the outset that it’s not his show, it belongs to the audience, and indeed, without a group of willing participants who are open to suggestion and susceptible to his techniques, there would be no performance. Luckily, especially for the exceptional finale (of which I’ll not give too many details away!), that includes most of us.
Unsettling; yes, disconcerting; yes. And Act Two is definitely not for under-12s (do NOT try Brown’s stunts involving plastic bags at home). But whether you choose to believe Brown is the messiah or the devil in disguise, there’s no denying that he’s a master puppeteer and a consummate showman. Prepare to be amazed.
- Elizabeth Ferrie (reviewed at De Montfort Hall, Leicester)