Derren Brown: Showman, Grand Opera House, April 19, 2022, Review

There are people of all ages, from kids to adults, hipsters and punks, to those getting on in years, dads with their sons and couples galore in the capacity-filled Grand Opera House: such is the appeal of Derren Brown and his mind-boggling approach to magic.

Brown has publicly stated his aim is to debunk and expose faith healers and mediums. But what he does do is beyond us mortals’ understanding of reality. Instead he says his performances are a ‘mixture of magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship’.

The set is of a Victorian note. You can half imagine a seance happening on the Opera House’s hallowed boards. The packed theatre is granted an admission into an uncertain, remarkable and fascinating night of something we can’t quite describe.

And describe I can’t. One reason is that Brown asks the audience not to wreck the expectations of future audiences, another is we reviewers have been asked to keep details of events as vague as possible, and the third, and most obvious is that Brown’s techniques are simply inexplicable.

What’s curious, apart from the magic, about Brown is how amiable he is. Quick witted, empathic, intelligent without seeming arrogant and surprisingly human.

The first half of the show is a quick intro into his showmanship, the second act is much more personal. There’s audience interaction from the off, and don’t think because you’re not sitting at the front you won’t be included. If you take the challenge, you could find yourself onstage.

I’m a cynic by nature, I think half the audience share my view. What Derren Brown does best is entertain. He could have made this show a cruel demonstration of his closely guarded unworldly powers, but instead he uses his skills to entertain, unnerve and makes us ask important questions concerning our collective and personal understanding of reality. Not a big surprise considering he’s won two Oliviers for best entertainment.

The show is called Derren Brown: Showman and he mentions P.T Barnum early in the performance, and alike the great American he doesn’t fail to deliver. To quote Brown’s father, ‘Don’t sleepwalk through life.’

A night to remember.

Derren Brown: Showman runs up to and including Saturday 23, April 2022 with a matinee on the Saturday.

To book your tickets visit or simply phone the box office on 02890 241919


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