DERREN BROWN: SHOWMAN
The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, Tuesday 26th October, 2021
I am presented with the almost impossible task of reviewing a show about which I may reveal no details. Yes, Derren Brown is back on the road with this latest production of mind-boggling tricks. I will say he gives us plenty to think about.
You can expect commonplace elements of a magician’s art: playing cards, coins, dice, but Brown uses them in original ways…
Written by Brown, Andrew O’Connor and the mastermind that is Andy Nyman, the show has a through-line on which everything else hangs — but I can’t say what that is.
If you’ve been to a Derren Brown show before, you’ll know the pains he goes to in order to select participants from the audience at random, or by whittling us down to the willing and most susceptible. You’ll know a camera operator will stalk the stage, so that close magic is thrown large, projected onto the backdrop so we can all see (and marvel).
You can’t help trying to suss out what he’s doing, how he reads people, their body language, their ‘tells’… But you won’t see what’s coming, no matter how clever you think you are. Brown is always the cleverest person in the room (unless the aforementioned Mr Nyman is present!).
All in all, the show is intriguing, puzzling, amusing, amazing, surprising, and surprisingly moving. I well up at one point, even though what’s going on is nothing to do with me.
Brown and his team aim to unite us in a shared experience, and remind us of our common humanity, and yet the man himself comes off as something ‘other’, something apart from the rest of ‘us’, largely because of his special skill set, and that’s rather sad.
But you come away, marvelling at his brilliance, revelling in the thrill of his manipulations, and perhaps just a little more appreciative of what you have and whom you love.