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Derren Brown Svengali
Derren Brown - Live
Member Name: VampirePrincess
Derren Brown - Live
Advantages: One amazing night, will be on DVD
Disadvantages: I didnt want it to end
I have been a huge fan of Derren Brown for many years now and this was my first time to see the man live. He didn't disappoint one bit and I certainly had one magical night.
Derren Brown - Svengali:
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre , May 3rd 2012
Keeping anything a secret in today's world is a very difficult thing. In this age of being able to type a string of incoherent sentences into Google and yielding an answer within seconds, endless knowledge is available at the click of a button.
How, then, can an art form such as magic survive in today's openly revealing society? Many workers have claimed that online video sites detailing methods have put a dent in magicians' repertoires, and this is obviously very true. An art form which is based on trust in one's peers, and knowledge which was once deeply concealed away in the depths of obscure textbooks; can magic still be what it once was; mysterious, elegant, and deceptive?
I'm afraid I can't answer that question, but I know a man who can.
The mysteriously titled 'Svengali' tour is Derren Brown's fourth theatre production to come to the UK. Over the years, his shows have become progressively more mind boggling, culminating with 2009's Enigma which I didn't think could be beaten for the perfect blend of magic, mentalism and theatrics. Over the course of two hours, we are treated to a wonderful showcase of these abilities, and for one night we are shown what it would be like to see a master magician at work in the early 1900's, when theatre shows were more entertaining than television.
For those not in the know, Derren Brown is a professional magician who specialises in all manner of psychological manipulations. He claims to be a master of hypnosis techniques, neuro-linguistic programming, multiple body language reading techniques and much more. He begins his shows (TV and theater) with the claim that his results are achieved through a combination of 'magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship'.
Derren asks his audience not to reveal anything too specific about the Svengali show, therefore I'll try not to say too much about his individual pieces. Before the show began, the audience were asked to write down their most embarrassing confessions and put them into a box at the front of the stage. Derren has always done a variation of this effect in all of his theatre shows, however the results of this one were quite special for me at least.
Audience participation is a big part of any magic show, and Derren utilizes this like no other performer on earth. For the opening trick, we are treated to a pure magic trick disguised as an act of mind-boggling manipulation. It involves Derren's shoe, a ten pound note, and a very confused audience member. The next trick involves a nod to Derren's first TV appearance ten years ago, as a confused couple were made to play Russian Roulette with paint guns. This was a particular highlight due to the couple onstage being so brain-dead that I don't think they understood the point of the trick. Derren however, seems to enjoy these types of participants, as there suggestibility can be greatly exploited by a master such as himself.
The whole show is encompassed by a frame story regarding a cursed doll made in the 1930's. This, I think, was one of the weakest parts of the show, as this story is a lot less believable than Derren's previous efforts (The Great Prestoni in Something Wicked, The Oracle Act in An Evening of Wonders). It quickly became obvious the doll story was entirely fictional, whereas the claims in previous tours were entirely possible to have been real. I won't reveal any further info about the doll, however there was a particular trick it was used for which was completely mind boggling. Even by using magic logic, I can't come to a conclusion as to how it was possibly done. A true magical masterpiece, the likes of which are rarely seen today.
It is difficult to discuss the specifics without giving away too much, therefore I'll try and give an overview of the rest of the show. At one point, not only does Derren show off his skills as a mentalist, but also his skills as an artist. An amazing portrait of a certain famous person painted in a very unique way. For the grand finale, audience members are picked, numbers are chosen randomly, balloons are dropped and everything comes together in a truly mind-blowing fashion. How Derren and his team arrived at this conclusion makes my brain ache trying to dissect their methods.
All of Derren's techniques are of particular interest to my partner, and he has since (annoyingly) pointed out the methods to many of the tricks in the show. However, he also points out that with this knowledge comes an even more profound befuddlement. It is worth noting that this next point was, ironically, pointed out by Derren on his conjuring instructional DVD (The Devil's Picturebook); to the eyes of the layman (someone without knowledge of magic), some feats are extraordinary. However, to the eyes of a magician, those same feats can be doubly extraordinary if the magician doesn't know how they're being done. For example, many magic tricks will have a simple explanation, and these tricks are enjoyable for their simplicity, and these secrets can usually be summed up in a sentence or two. Above this there are professional magic routines, which involve complex sleight of hand and masterful deceptions.
And even above this, there are the choice few magical pieces. Routines such as David Copperfield's Portal, Teller's Miser's Dream, and Derren Brown's bizarre mind-reading doll trick which he is currently performing on the Svengali tour. These are a few pieces of conjuring which are so elegant and mysterious that for a brief moment, you might think that magic does really exist. And so for these secrets, then, there can only be one answer;
'I don't want to know'.
£30 per person for the tickets. A small price to pay for an evening of wonderment. Considering there are arena bands (Guns N Roses, Motley Crue) charging £40-50 per ticket in massive venues, £30 is perfectly reasonable for decent theatres. This show is definitely worth it for absolutely anyone, and I cannot recommend it enough. Someone who is unfamiliar with Derren will be mind numbingly amazed by every single feat. Even those who are regular viewers of him will also be left scratching their heads. My partner has spent a great deal of time researching magic, and he claims many of the tricks can be figured out. However, watching Derren perform, I've realised that the secret is not important.
If you can not get to a show near you or the tour has come to a halt I would full heartedly recommend you get the DVD copy when it comes out. I promise you, you shall not be disappointed.
A massive five stars from me.
Thank you for reading.
Summary: A night with Derren Brown Live
More reviews in the field of Theatre / Musical National
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- The Tiger Who Came To Tea Stage Show
- Sweeney Todd at the Adelphi Theatre
- Tim Minchin at the Eden Sessions (England)
- Conversations with Penn & Teller (IndigO2, London)
- Open Air Theatre Regent's Park
- Josie Long - Trying is Good
- Mark Watson - Can I briefly talk to you about the point of life?
- Touch - Bill Dare
- Norman Lovett's Slide Show