Friday, August 9, 2013

Derren Brown: Infamous- New Alexandra Theatre

Psychological illusionist and mind bender extraordinaire, Derren Brown, has asked the audiences of his tour thus far to keep the contents of his show a secret, which has understandably left any reviews devoid of specific details. When you cast your mind back and remember that he is more than capable of making you believe that you now live in a post-apocalyptic world filled with ‘infected’, zombie-fied human beings, among other things, it is very easy to comply with his request. Not to mention, mere words would not really do justice to the thrill of experiencing this show for yourselves, and the respect that you’ll gain for Derren after seeing this show or anything else he has done will be so great, you just won’t want to give away what’s in store. What can be said, however, is that Infamous is as surreal, mind boggling, and truly fantastic as anything he has previously done, if not more so.

He has once again joined forces with director Andy Nyman, whose previous credits include Derren Brown: Enigma as well as a number of the television programmes Derren has under his belt. When it comes to delivering a spectacular show, these men are a force to be reckoned with. Infamous feels more intimate and understated than the previous live shows; the set is a lot more simplistic, although very effective, and Derren does go into some personal history that reveals him to be very grounded and very much human. The tricks themselves are just as astounding as you would expect, and they all lead up to an explosive finale that will leave you breathless with wonderment and mind-numbing confusion.

Derren has previously said that in recent years he has decided to move away from tricks that focus the audience’s attention completely on him, and instead enjoys facilitating an experience for another person. Indeed, the majority of this show revolves around audience participation and interaction, which amps up the adrenaline before the curtain is even raised as you wonder what’s going to happen if one of his colourful frisbees heads directly for you.  He uses this method of choosing ‘volunteers’ to deter people from thinking he plants actors or stooges in his audiences; it’s a great shame that he comes under fire from those who decide to accuse him of being ‘fake’. On numerous occasions, Derren reminds us that he does not have psychic powers and that he is very sceptical of supernatural claims. For me personally this makes him all the more impressive; to be able to work out the complex logistics of all of his tricks and to be able to fool a substantial amount of people, who don’t for one second take their eyes off you, over and over again, takes so much more intelligence and skill than would be necessary if ‘swish your wand Harry Potter style’ magic or mind reading actually did exist. What also becomes very apparent when you go to Derren’s shows is that, despite how different we all think we are, the human mind is consistently predictable and easily influenced, and it is his deep knowledge and understanding of these facts that helps him produce such an astonishing performance.

On top of all of this, it can never be repeated too often that Derren is a born showman; one minute he will be light and comical, the next he’ll be commanding and compelling. There is really nobody else out there like him, and there is certainly no other show like this one.

There is a moment in the show where Derren talks about how big claims should always be backed up with substantial evidence- the claim made here is that Derren Brown’s shows are some of the most memorable, electrifying, and overwhelmingly exciting productions you will ever see, and Infamous is the undeniable evidence.

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