AT THE end of a quite amazing evening, Derren Brown gave us theatre reviewers strict instructions not to be giving away the content of what we have witnessed.
I can quite understand why – the experience, which is as much a journey as a show, should be enjoyed with fresh eyes and ears every performance – so you won’t be getting any spoilers from me here.
This 250-night tour is entitled ‘Showman’ and this sums up Mr. Brown pretty well, I’d say.
He is a one-off original, a master of illusion, a conjuror supreme and a mind-manipulating hypnotist whom, whilst appreciating his unique talents, I wouldn’t particularly welcome as a dinner guest. No, I’m happy to enjoy a safe distance between stage and seat.
That’s not true of most of the audience though, who begged in their droves to be part of the on-stage antics.
The seductive stage set is like we are guests in the huge parlour of a mysterious mansion, where extraordinary things happen. Things, which will become in-car conversations on the way home and ‘How did he do that?!’ conversations for weeks to come.
Brown enjoys a great rapport with the audience and whilst his dark brooding presence is indeed more showman than headmaster, everyone respectfully does what they are told.
I gave up trying to work out how things were done very early on, unlike a skeptic a couple of seats away who annoyingly kept telling his partner his theories. Mr Skeptic became a believer before the final curtain though, leaping to his feet and whooping at the magical maestro’s walkdown.
Again without giving anything away but whetting the appetites – there are several story lines which tease and tantalise throughout the evening – all of which are cleverly resolved before we go home.
That’s all the background you’ll be getting from me – so onto the team responsible.
Firstly the script for the ‘Showman’ tour is a collaboration between Brown himself plus Andy Nyman and Andrew O’Connor – who are in addition the shows directors. Not surprisingly Nyman and O’Connor are also actors and magicians in their own right. Oh to be a fly on the wall at one of their threesome script meetings!
Simon Higlett is the designer responsible for the mystic set and Charlie Morgan Jones the designer that illuminates it with some wizard sparks.
Brown also has a large production team of on and off-stage camera folk, technicians and chaperones who, judging by the programme notes, all appear to be one happy family. Just as well really if they are touring together for the next year.
The Alex was full right up the last seat in the Gods. Well done to the theatre staff who handled the large crowds faultlessly.
Opening an extra entrance at the start was an excellent idea – making sure everyone had double jab certificates, even taking some temperatures if they felt it necessary and advising mask wearing when moving about quite correct. Inside it was the same – well monitored and safety first all done with a warm smile.
It’s probably house-full all week but do try and grab a return if you can – this is an experience like no other.
While Derren Brown’s TV shows are legendary, watching him live takes it to a whole new dimension.
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