Derren Brown: Master of illusion leaves spellbound audience with their jaws on the floor
Published 18/03/2014 | 10:00
Who, or what, is Derren Brown? Is he a magician? A comedian? A psychologist? A mentalist? Like a consummate chef, he takes a pinch from all of those labels, which goes one way to explaining his extraordinary appeal over more than a decade and five previous stage shows.
With the Londoner's pulling power aided by his dazzling outings on Channel 4, which have seen him stage a heist, convince a shy man he can land a plane, and simulate the apocalypse, Brown's shows bring together regular theatre-goers with those who would never normally consider a night out at the Opera House.
And that's exactly the way he likes it.
He's a man of the people, but rather than pandering to the lowest common denominator, Brown's trick (perhaps his best) is to raise all of us to his intellectual level, and make us think about the world, and our own minds, in completely new ways. This in a country that used to revere rabbit-out-of-hat merchants like Paul Daniels.
Apart from those who may have seen this show before on a previous run, everyone here had bought a ticket on blind faith.
No advance information about Infamous is available on his website, short of a typically enigmatic teaser trailer, and he has asked his audience (and reviewers) to keep the contents a secret – with a surprising level of success.
But such is the man's infamy, charisma and back catalogue of confounding feats of mind control that the tour is into a second year, and last night's show was the first of six at the Grand Opera House.
In common with his work, Infamous was a celebration of rationalism. In truth the show got off to an uncertain start, partly due to some unfortunately (randomly) chosen audience members, whose reading and comprehension skills must have Brown sweating for the rest of the Belfast run.
But it soon hit its stride with a perfectly suggestible audience member named Patrick – a serendipitous coincidence on St Patrick's Day – and a series of spectacular set pieces.
It wouldn't be fair to ruin it for those yet to see the show, but suffice to say that as a blend of humour, psychology and wonder, Infamous was a charming, and frequently jaw-dropping hit.