Derren Brown, Svengali

Surely even Derren Brown can’t guarantee precisely where a Frisbee flung up

to the grand circle or a balloon lobbed into the stalls is going to land?


the mystery remains – how, in a theatre seating close on 1,500 people, could

this master of manipulation and illusion possibly deduce which foolhardy

young chap had admitted, on a folded scrap of paper, to… well, I daren’t

really say as Brown makes things difficult for the critics too.

How to

review a show when you’ve explicitly been asked not to divulge what you’ve


So suffice to say that the experience of one volunteer demonstrated the

power of susceptible mind over matter, paintballing will never be the same

again for another couple of randomly picked spectators, and a mechanical

automaton (the Svengali of the title and, according to Brown, dating back to

the 18th century and lovingly restored by him before it goes on display at

the Victoria and Albert Museum) manifests creepily supernatural abilities.

Brown spends perhaps too much time in Svengali building the atmosphere of each new

display of his powers, but there’s no doubting that he’s the consummate

showman – still slightly sinister despite the charismatic patter, he keeps

the audience on tenterhooks as his skilful show dovetails in a complex,

neatly tied-up finale. A great night out.


Shaftesbury Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8DP
020 7379 5399

Holborn/Tottenham Court Road
Until 16th July
£26- £51

– Louise Kingsley