Some of you may have seen Derren Brown on TV the other night reading Jimmy Fallon’s mind and successfully guessing Fallon’s man crush on Barack Obama. That’s just a small taste of his amazing act. Not quite sure how to describe his show. Hugely popular in the UK where he’s been dazzling audiences for years, he’s part magician, mentalist, illusionist and now altogether first class Broadway showman.
Secrecy is naturally required for such a show which is full of surprises. In fact it’s even in the title, “Derren Brown Secret,” so I won’t be able to provide much in the way of detail except to say that unless the entire audience is in on the act, it’s going to be impossible to figure out how the heck he pulls it off. He insists he has no psychic abilities. Rather in his words, he’s a psychological illusionist. That is he works by reading the signals that we give off both physically and mentally to betray our hidden-most thoughts. And so after some pretty impressive tricks being able to predict in which hand audience members hide objects and a neat game of telepathic “Guess Who,” the second act is utterly mind boggling as he’s able to pick out embarrassing secrets from random audience members. At the performance I attended, he even called out someone fearing his partner was unfaithful, and another who had been arrested for singing badly.
Brown also happens to be a very engaging performer. His delivery, peppered with edgy humor, makes the whole experience quite entertaining, even if you do manage incredibly to figure out his secrets. His co-writers and directors, Andrew O’Connor and Andy Nyman, deserve a bow for keeping things simple and focused, proving as Brown says, “We allow ourselves to be manipulated.”
The show is bound to keep audiences guessing how he does it night after night. Hard to believe it’s just a bunch of tricks up his sleeve because he does seem to have some powers of thought control. And now that I’ve said it, I’m wondering who really wrote this rave review - was it me or was it him?