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REVIEW: Derren Brown mesmerises with mind-bending return to stage

By Kyle Ritchie

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Derren Brown – Showman has arrived in the north-east and it astounds with an experience unlike any other.

The title is apt for Brown, who got his big break in TV in the late 90s, but really seemed to thrive on the stage at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen.

He impresses with his unsurpassed mix of mind-control, suggestion, illusion and, of course, showmanship.

However, an unexpected emotional focus in this new show has the biggest impact on the audience and will stay with them for a very long time.

Derren Brown showcases a mix of of mind-control, suggestion, illusion and, of course, showmanship.
Derren Brown showcases a mix of of mind-control, suggestion, illusion and, of course, showmanship.

Brown came to prominence in 1999 with his Channel 4 TV show Mind Control and over the past 20 years has created other pioneering television including Russian Roulette, The Heist and The Push.

He has also received critical acclaim for his stage shows including Enigma, Svengali and his Broadway debut, Secret.

Brown sworn the audience (and this reviewer) to secrecy over the content of the show as it needs to be experienced knowing as little as possible.

What I can divulge is that the mind-bending journey begins as soon as you enter the theatre.

In its previews he outlines that the show explores the themes of tough times and how they can be isolating, which has come to the fore over the past two years during the pandemic.

However, he challenges the audience to see this as an illusion and how people can be linked by their difficulties and failures to do themselves justice, and to overcome them and make connections.

As the show progresses Brown leaves you questioning your memory, reality and what matters most in life.

Right from when you take your seat an atmosphere is created and this intensifies and engages as he seamlessly takes the audience through his world of magic and psychological techniques.

And a key part of the production is the audience, who are invited to participate throughout and he leaves those on stage and in their seats in true amazement.

Audience participation is a key part of Derren Brown – Showman.
Audience participation is a key part of Derren Brown – Showman.

The intensity is eased at parts with Brown's warm manner and humour, which provides some respite from the mind-blowing spectacle.

The show's staging complements the experience and sound, music and lighting are used at critical moments for full impact.

Live video is used throughout and provides the audience with a different perspective as it is projected on to a giant screen which engulfs the rear of the stage. The camera also goes backstage at one point to give a small peek behind the curtain.

By the time Brown makes his final emotional bow he leaves you pondering life's priorities and those in the audience will no doubt be debating with each other how what they witnessed was done for some time.

Derren Brown – Showman is at His Majesty's Theatre until Saturday and tickets can be purchased at its online box office.

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