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.
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
– Louise Kingsley