Derren Brown Showman

Theatre | Derren Brown’s Showman

Derren Brown’s Showman at Leeds Grand Theatre, reviewed (sort of) by Phil Kirby.

If I saw Derren Brown coming towards me on a train or a bus or in fact any enclosed space where there’s no chance of escape, I’d probably duck, pull my jumper over my head and slip quietly under the seat. Anything to avoid him spotting me. Making eye contact.

I’ve seen all his tv shows. I’ve watched far too many YouTube clips (sorry Derren, I know I should have been listening to the podcast instead; I’ll try and do better.) I know what he can get people to do. It’s fascinating to watch, but I don’t ever want to be one of those people.

Along with most people I like to think I’m not easily fooled. And that’s how most people are very easily fooled. Misled, misdirected and manipulated. Some people even enjoy it. I think Derren said fifteen percent of the population are susceptible to suggestion, which makes the other eighty-five percent of us feel very good about ourselves, and liable to fall for anything else he’d like to make us believe. All of us will believe anything if it’s delivered with confidence by an authority figure in a nice suit.

And Derren Brown was wearing a very nice suit when I saw him performing his new show, Showman, at The Grand the other night. He was a very commanding presence for over two and a half hours he was on stage. He could have gotten us to believe anything, I’m sure.

I had a seat in Row E, far too close to the stage for comfort. My comfort at least. I did not want to be picked for any of the antics which I knew were about to unfold. I’m a born spectator. I’m happy to watch other people do funny and peculiar things but I don’t want to be the one up there in front of several hundred strangers cockadoodledooing and making like a chicken… By the way, that wasn’t a spoiler (a broiler spoiler?). Derren does not transform anyone into a domesticated, feathery, farmyard creature. No fowl play goes on in this show.

Fortunately for me, however, I was accompanied by a friend who absolutely loves the limelight and was determined to get up there and play along with whatever Derren suggested. I’m pretty sure she would have clucked like a mother hen and laid an egg if that had been required. She’s that sort of person. And I’m certain Derren spotted that instantly. As I said, we were only a few feet away from the stage, he couldn’t have missed the enthusiasm and the desire to be part of the show which positively sparkled from my friend. That much didn’t take a mind reader.

What did take a mind reader – a very brilliant, talented, skilled mind reader – was what happened when she got up on stage… But that I can’t reveal. Derren specifically asked the reviewers in the audience not to give away any spoilers, so I shan’t.

So, how can you review a show when you can’t say much about it? Well, simply by saying go and see it. You will be baffled. You will be mystified. You might even learn something about how the mind works (hint, it’s all confabulation… I hope that’s not too much of a spoiler.) Most of all you’ll be entertained. Two and a half hours fly by. I remember commenting to my friend in the bar before the show that two and a half hours might drag a little at the end, but genuinely I could have happily sat through the whole thing again, and still been completely involved.

And I can confirm that all the people who allow themselves to be part of the show are genuine. They are not stooges. They aren’t set ups… At least I know my friend wasn’t a plant… She was completely authentic…So she says…  As far as I’m aware… Crikey, maybe Derren Brown is even trickier than I thought…

Derren Brown’s Showman is on at Leeds Grand Theatre till the 27th. Get a ticket. Unless you’re too chicken…