Derren Brown, New Victoria Theatre, Woking

This won’t be a review of the gig in the conventional sense – pretty much the first thing Derren said when he came on stage, and the last thing he said before leaving it, was a plea to the audience to not divulge any of the happenings, and rightly so – the show works far better when you don’t know what’s going to happen.

So instead, some impressions from a personal perspective of the show.

I was supposed to be attending this one with my partner, but alas he was unwell so I attended on my own.  The show opened, and Derren announced that for his first trick he needed a couple, and duly threw his frisbee into the audience to select someone at random.  And I can confirm that it IS completely random because, with perhaps ironic inevitability, the frisbee landed on me and fell onto the empty chair my ill partner would have been occupying.  Yup, we would have been the first people Derren used in his act – how frustrating!

Anyway.  The act.  If you’e seen Derren before, either live on one of his shows, then you will know the sort of thing to expect – very clever tricks accompanied by outstanding showmanship; and that’s exactly what we got here.  It was fascinating being able to watch all this live, unedited, in front of your very eyes.  There were quick tricks, there were more in-depth tricks, there were tricks involving individuals, there were tricks involving the entire audience…

Now, I should say at this point that I have studied some of the techniques which Derren employs in his routine, albeit for completely different and unrelated reasons.  So there were some of the things he did where I knew what he was doing, how he was doing it, and how to do it myself. But that in no way detracted from the show – if anything, I got even more from those parts as it was like attending a Master Class, seeing some new ways of doing those things, seeing how an undoubted master uses them live without people even realising, and learning new ways of using them.  Other techniques I knew what he was doing but can’t do it myself and, in all honesty, I just felt even more admiration for the man – seeing someone doing things which you know take years of study and practise, and seeing him use them effortlessly, was awe-inspiring and there was no doubt at all that I was watching a true master at work.  And for much of the rest of his act, I was in the same position as most (if not all) of the audience, utterly bereft of even a hint of an inkling of an idea of how the hell he did it, and suitably thoroughly impressed.

I have wanted to see Derren live for a few years.  Almost got to see him a couple of years back but events conspired.  I’ve also wanted to be one of the ones picked, to experience it for myself.  Very nearly got both tonight, but even though I missed out on getting to go up on account of not being a couple there, it was fantastic to see his show, to experience it, and to have (albeit unwitting on Derren’s part) a master class in some of the techniques, as well as being totally stumped and mystified by the rest of it.

Derren is taking Svengali on tour round the country for two years, this was pretty much the start of the tour.  I would definitely recommend going to see it; the guy is highly skilled and a great showman, it was everything I had hoped a night at his show would be.