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Review: Derren Brown mesmerises with mind tricks at Belfast Grand Opera House


(Ian West/PA)

(Ian West/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

(Ian West/PA)

It's the best of Derren Brown — but let’s be honest, when has the mastermind ever done anything that doesn’t leave you marvelling and pondering how he did it for days on end?

If you have seen some of his work before — some elements will naturally feel familiar — as this show brings together a collection of the very best of his work.  But don’t let this lull you into a false sense of security.

The audible gasps, oohs and aahs and the odd scream of disbelief in Belfast’s Grand Opera House on Tuesday night was enough to know that no matter what Brown does — he mesmerises.

You can’t help but admire the man who relies on strangers every night to help him complete the most intricate of tricks.

The audience is comfortably in the palm of his hand from the moment he appears on stage.

The lights dim and instantly we are captivated and hanging on his every word — and from the very beginning he is in control.

The mind-games commence and it’s a bit of a mental work-out as you are working overtime (albeit in vain) hoping to pin-point where he is using misdirection or attaching potential significance to everything he says and does.

But he’s the master of illusion and mind control — so you can try, but he will ultimately catch you out as he tells us, “I am often dishonest in my techniques but I’m always honest about my dishonesty”.

There’s nothing quite like being in the audience for a Derren Brown show — where participation is of course an integral part.

He has an impressive back catalogue and a seemingly endless list of talents — from TV projects, books and paintings.

But when you are in the same room as him — and you see first-hand what he is capable of — you are on the edge of your seat — sometimes quite literally.

This is compounded by the genuine nervous energy in the room, as you look around and know that at least a handful of these unsuspecting people that have come out for an evening’s entertainment will end up having a starring role in the show.

In a show that undoubtedly takes so much concentration from its star, you might expect it to be rather serious in tone.

But he has this rare quality, in that the moment he appears he warms the room with his charm, wit and genuine modesty.

He effortlessly guides the audience from having them laughing out loud to commanding complete respectful silence.

Brown has built his career on a skillset which includes showmanship, misdirection and persuasion and when he showcases his highlights which encompasses them all — you can be sure he’s in top form.

The second half of the show takes on a slightly darker theme and you will be left stunned at what unfolds before your eyes.

But aside from the trickery — there is something really special about what he is doing. Because Derren goes beyond entertainment.

He is incredibly honest in what he shares with us and he seems to really care about his audience.

And once that bond is established he uses his wisdom to present a new way of thinking on a range of areas including decision-making, success and what we let take up space in our mind.

One of my favourite lines he tells us is that: “You’ll worry less what people think of you when you realise how seldom they do”.

It’s a long held agreement with Derren and his viewers over the years that you don’t disclose what actually happens in the show.

So all I can say is that you may discover things you never knew about yourself and if you don’t — he’ll certainly tell you.

And you will leave thinking that just maybe — if you put your mind to it — you can do anything.

But mainly — after his breathtaking, showstopping finale — you will be once again left wondering just how on earth this wizard does it!

Derren Brown: Underground is at Belfast’s Grand Opera House until Sat May 26 2018.

Belfast Telegraph