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A CurtainUp London Review
Derren Brown Enigma
What I can tell you is that he will openly hypnotise a few subjects, a practice that was made illegal on the London stage by the now defunct Greater London Council because of the humiliation that people were subject to under the influence of hypnosis. Although what Brown does to his subjects is not grossly humiliating and even that may be illusory, I personally feel uncomfortable with people acting out of character under hypnosis for entertainment. However everyone in the audience is given the choice not to take part in the hypnosis.
The air of excitement is infectious and of course the first night was filled with genuine fans rather than the claque of friends and family. Most of the show is a succession of magic tricks which seem to be inexplicable and have the audience asking "How did he do that?" Some of the tricks are quite elaborate in their complexity with astounding punchline results. How did a girl recall an obscure event from her past, from her childhood, that he guessed correctly? His subject's obvious delight and amazement was wonderful to look at as she squealed with enthusiasm at his revelation.
At three hours but with an interval, the show seems rather long but plenty of the audience have a chance to become involved as he selects them by throwing Frisbees out into the auditorium. Once onstage, the "volunteers" may be the butt of the magician's acidic style of humour which is based on his enormous ego and his mischievous imagination about any sexual perversions they may indulge in. However as the winner of an Olivier award for Best Entertainment in 2005, he has many fans who keep coming back, so if he is suffering from egomania this is reinforced by the audience avidly cheering his show.
Derren Brown's debunking of the Victorian Spirit Mediums amuses behind a booth constructed of red velvet curtains. He will show how at least one trick is done, not mind reading but magic. You are tempted to think that he has employed stooges in the audience but we are assured that this is not so, not necessary: these are illusions or mind games. I can't help thinking how useful he would be to MI6, the British Secret Service.
Few in the audience are unaware of what to expect from Derren Brown although they are also amazed by his powers. They will not be disappointed as the live show is more convincingly illusory than television can ever be.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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