Here’s a show that should be the talk of the town, except that its co-creator and star Derren Brown would rather you didn’t speak about it at all. Quite rightly, he doesn’t want its frequent and amazing surprises to be spoilt for future audiences.
But if the show necessarily needs to be wrapped up in pact of secrecy that I will therefore not defy, there’s no denying that the cult of Derren Brown is growing faster and his abilities are ever more uncanny than I can describe, either. And the show is regularly so gobsmacking that I’m simply left speechless anyway.
This show returns him to the Palace Theatre where he made his West End debut in 2003. Since then, he has won the Olivier award for best entertainment twice, for Something Wicked This Way Comes and Svengali, in 2006 and 2012 respectively. Now, with his 6th show to arrive in town, he could and should add a third award to his mantelpiece. (He probably knows already whether that’s going to happen.)
His shows are built on surprises, but the biggest one is how much he has changed the template of what he is offering this time for a show that is at once intimately personal and reflective, yet also constantly inventive, too.
This psychological illusionist, who feels like he can burrow into other people’s minds and thoughts, also peels back his own here, to offer personal reflections on his 16 years in the closet until he came out at the age of 31, and what it feels like not to fit in. He also lays bare the bullying he was subjected to at school that led him to being nicknamed ‘Dickbrain’.
But if there’s still raw pain and damage there, he harnesses it expertly to connect with audiences in a common humanity that’s as bold and brave as it is constantly unnerving. And as a packed house are gripped by the astonishing feats of memory and deduction that he draws us into, it’s a show that relies less on big setpieces and props than pure simple imagination.
Palace, London, June 24-August 17
- Derren Brown, Andy Nyman
- Andy Nyman
- Producers; Michael Vine, Andrew O’Connor, Corrie McGuire for Objective Talent Management
- Derren Brown
- Running time
- 2hrs 30mins