Derren Brown: Infamous

Posted by on Jun 19, 2014 in Reviews | 0 comments

Derren-Brown-InfamousYet again, Derren Brown is packing huge theatres up and down the land. Playing to sell-out crowds 8 nights in a row in the same place is an impressive feat for what is essentially a magic show: Derren’s compelling combination of showmanship and apparently supernatural abilities seems to resonate with all sorts of people who would not necessarily consider themselves interested in magic.

This is a lean, pared-down production, with none of the sinister chill that occasionally blew through the big props and flamboyance of previous shows. Instead, the atmosphere is cosy, warm and intimate. The comparatively minimalist set is supported by effective use of a projector and by a cameraman who steps in at strategic moments to reflect on to the big screen objects and messages that might not be visible to those at the back. But otherwise, from the audience’s point of view, Infamous is a low-tech show – which serves to heighten the power of Derren’s achievements.

As fans will have seen on television, Derren spends a lot of time and energy discrediting mediums and psychics. Debunking spiritualists is one of the central themes of Infamous and, like Houdini, Derren does it by demonstrating the kind of paranormal phenomena performed by these people, while constantly reminding us that what we’re witnessing is, in fact, just an illusion.

The high level of audience participation, along with the conversational tone, creates a strong sense of being involved – as opposed to merely spectating – even for those not taking part. I was sitting in the gallery and I’m sure I speak for everyone present when I say Derren shrank that vast auditorium to the size of somebody’s living room (not literally, you understand, though I don’t doubt he could). Actually, to me it felt more like a classroom at the sort of inspiring school one sees in films. Like the best teachers, Derren drew us all in and had us hanging on his every word as he explained the experiments he was going to carry out, talked us through what was happening and helped us to form conclusions afterwards.

I can’t go into any more detail because, as at all his shows, Derren asked us not to spoil the surprises for subsequent audiences by revealing what to expect. I can, however, heartily recommend you make sure you see Infamous for yourself.