Review: Derren Brown. Showman. Curve Leicester

The first rule of Derren Brown is that you don’t talk about Derren Brown, and so this reviewer has the unenviable task of writing about a show where the man himself has asked us to keep its secrets. A bit of a tall order? Not at all as, in reality, only two words are needed…mind blowing!

With a little trepidation I await for Derren Brown to appear on the stage. Having avoided spectacles such as this on both stage and screen (I’m firmly of the opinion that if I can’t explain it, I don’t want to be entertained by it), I am nervous about what the evening will bring…a sentiment that arguably pervades the almost-full house at Curve Theatre in Leicester. There is heightened tension and I don’t mind admitting that my heart is beating just a little faster than usual despite the calming crooning of Frank Sinatra. And then the house lights go down, the stage lights go up, the performance begins…and I can say no more…

Except to say that Derren Brown has the audience eating out of the palm of his hands (not literally) for the entirety of the show. This charismatic entertainer has absolutely perfected his craft since he first became a household name back in 1999 with his show “Derren Brown: Mind Control”. Derren builds up an excellent rapport with his audience from the off with his easy manner, well timed-humour and off-the-cuff remarks, as well as more emotional moments which really resonate. Yes, there is audience interaction aplenty, but for the majority of the 2.5 hour show, it is Derren who takes the stage, front and centre, as he immerses his audience in thrilling illusion and spine-tingling mind control. My mind was frantically searching for the “how” during Act 1, but by Act 2, I am just there for the fun and the open mouthed moments of awe as Derren defies logic…and surprisingly, that’s ok with me.

The drama of the show is enhanced by the exciting lighting design by Charlie Morgan Jones. Sometimes a simple spot, sometimes the houselights are up, however the most impressive lights are overpowering and breathtaking but are absolutely integral to what Derren is trying to achieve. The severity and modernity of the lighting is juxtaposed with the classic opulence of the set by Simon Higlett and in this way, Derren gives a nod to his predecessors (some of whom you will learn about) as well as to those future illusionists.

This isn’t “just” a hypnotist show or a magic show though, it’s a life affirming, sentimental journey with Derren passing on words of wisdom to better the lives of all of his audience members. He manages to touch each and every spectator and I’ve no doubt that on leaving the auditorium, we’ve all been, if not changed, then given the space to consider life and the choices we make. It is clear that this show means a lot to Derren, and I would like to thank him, on behalf of all Curve audience members on Tuesday 20 October 2021, for inviting us into his world and his thoughts and his experiences.

If you do attend this show at any point on the tour, and I sincerely suggest that you do, be open minded, be ready to learn and be ready to be thoroughly entertained by a master Showman…and don’t forget to bring your sentimental object.

Derren Brown: Showman will be amazing and enthralling audiences at Curve Theatre, Leicester from 19 to 23 October 2021. If you miss it at this venue, fear not – pop a note in your diary for 14-18 June 2022, when the show will return to the East Midlands at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal venue.

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