I’ve been a fan of Derren Brown for a while. When I was 13 I bought Tricks of the Mind from Amazon for 1p. Although I had little idea who he was at the time after two weeks I’d watched every one of his TV shows and watched the recordings of his stage shows.
Tricks of the Mind is the book you have to thank for this blog. It was the book that introduced me to the ideas of scepticism, critical thinking and the power of our mind to mislead us. The book changed the direction of my life and gave me further motivation to study magic. A little over six years later the book is still one of my favourites.
I’ll be writing more on Brown and his books shortly but that’s not what this post is about. I hadn’t been planning to write this but on Saturday I went to see Browns latest show Derren Brown Underground and it blew me away. Underground is a ‘best hits’ show featuring polished up versions of the best tricks from all his previous work built around a new theme.
Derren has asked us to keep the contents of the show secret so I won’t spoil anything but I’ll still try to get across how awesome the show is.
I’ve seen performances from some of the greats including: Penn and Teller, Paul Daniels and Gary the children’s magician from up the road. Underground blew all the others clear out the water so powerfully some went into orbit.
Browns performance will have you convinced that every single audience member present (except you) is in his pay but the scary thing is that this is simply not true. That’s what makes the show that much more mindblowing.
Brown is a master showman. His stage presence is powerful yet subtle. Intense but subdued. Forceful yet gentle. Every word and every pause is carefully accounted for. He had the audience in the palm of his hand throughout. Laughing, gasping and stunned in equal measure.
You’ll leave questioning whether everything you know about reality is false. You might even swear that mindreading is real, psychic powers exist and that Derren Brown can see through a black envelope through a blindfold. You’ll also be very suspicious of any gorillas you see at the zoo.
Brown’s humanity and authentic respect is also evident throughout. He treats volunteers (well more like frisbee catchers) with kindness and humour. He doesn’t insult the audience’s intelligence or celebrate his own brilliance. He just performs.
When you watch Brown you soon realise that in another lifetime he could be an excellent therapist just as he could be a brilliant conman if he wanted.
Brown is clearly a showman at the top of his game and in my view the best magician of his generation (sorry Dynamo).
If you haven’t already bought tickets to Underground (you only have a month left to catch it) then to borrow words from the magician Steven Bridges from when he interviewed Brown “you need to just make better life decisions.”