Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Tuesday 1st May, 2012
Derren Brown returns with his latest evening of wonders and mind games. I am trying not to mention anything specifically having entered into a kind of Satanic pact to keep it all secret. Much of what happens is what you’d expect: the random selection of participants from the audience (I won’t call them volunteers. Victims, perhaps) the spiel and the patter, the mockery, and the urbane charm of the man. There are also surprises aplenty, baffling and delightful. And creepy.
There are moments of absolute terror – when you think you might be chosen to take part. These are followed by moments of disappointment when you get over your relief of not being selected. It’s a curious thing.
What you must never do is doubt that the master showman is in control of everything. In some ways the audience is performing for him. He influences responses, manipulates movement and out-thinks us at every turn. He takes great pains to claim there is nothing supernatural or psychic or extra sensory about his act but you’re never sure how he does what he does. Or indeed what it is he’s actually doing. How does he know? You begin to see how things like mass hysteria and religious fervour can be induced in a crowd, how ‘miracles’ can be faked and how faith healing ‘works’.
It all makes for an entertaining, exciting and bamboozling evening of marvels. If I was Derren Brown I would be even smugger than he at times appears.