Derren Brown: British phenom, psychological illusionist, magnetic stage presence. This his second attempt at cracking the American Market, the first being a short-lived SciFi Channel show in 2007. This is his first American stage show.
I came to the opening night show with my girlfriend, who knows nothing about Derren, and is not a fan of magic. A perfect foil to my magic-loving-Derren-adoring self. And I honestly thought that most of the New York audience would be like her: lukewarm and uninitiated to his brand. I wrong. I was so wrong.
When the lights went out, and the dark silhouette of Derren Brown walked on stage, there was a deafening eruption in the small theater. It didn’t sound like the sold-out 200 seat Linda Gross Theater, it sounded like a rock star stepping center stage at The Garden. I don’t think he expected such a reception.
Derren was his charming, funny, and sometimes-terrifying self, blurring the lines of trickster, psychologist and showman. Even as a magician watching, there were so many layers to his performance, that it would be impossible to figure out his mind reading miracles. But you don’t want to figure it out. You want to believe that this deviously magnetic British man figured out the deepest secrets of human psychology, being able to predict and influence every thought and move you make.
It was like watching a psychic tell you that he was a fraud, but leave you with no explanation but to believe that he was really a psychic. That’s Derren in a nutshell.
The show had runtime of over 2 hours, plus a 30 minute intermission, but it felt like it flew by in an instant. That’s the mark of a great performance. He’s a master story teller, and built a whole narrative on audience interaction. It’s not an illusion act where you watch a magician dance around lacquered boxes with scantily clad assistants. It’s deeper, better, leaving you with a profound and personal experience. Even my girlfriend was chosen to come on stage, but I can’t say more about that.
It’s a given that I loved Derren Brown SECRET. It’s Derren in prime form, you can’t go wrong. But what about the skeptic, Stephanie? The best way to describe her state after the show was that of elated confusion. Nothing made sense. It was one of those moments where you question a lot of things about human behavior, but walk away appreciating the nuances of what it means to be alive.
Also published on Medium.