Derren Brown - a brilliant and engaging entertainer

Derren Brown
Derren Brown

Miracle worker, mindbender or master magician? One thing is clear – the enigma that is Derren Brown is a brilliant and engaging entertainer.

Derren Brown: Infamous (Theatre Royal, Brighton, until Saturday, February 15th)

His new show Infamous, which played in the West End last year but has started a national tour in Brighton, is breathtaking, witty, naughty, deeply personal and impressive.

Some thought Derren Brown’s last live show Svengali didn’t quite hit the heights of his previous offerings, but this new two-and-a-half hour one-man show is assuredly a masterwork.

Back with co-writer and director Andy Nyman, this thrilling and often mind-blowing entertainment shows Brown confident, relaxed, affably self-deprecating and clearly enjoying every minute.

Simon Higlett’s stage design – and indeed Brown’s first appearance sat alone on a wooden chair with an erudite soliloquy – look for all the world as though we are in for an evening of depressing Russian drama.

But the mood changes as surprise after surprise, involving a variety of audience members, takes us on what can only be described as a psychological rollercoaster. Even though several of the setpieces have been seen in previous shows they are given a fresh treatment – and there’s no point spoiling a single one here, as each needs to be experienced as new and unprepared for.

The delightful thing about Brown is that he is so likeable you never will a trick or a memory feat or a sleight of hand to go wrong. He has the whole audience on his side and there is such a how/wow factor in what he does that you leave the auditorium baffled .

However often he tells us that what we see are illusions, we are convinced he is a master magician; however frequently he claims that we are witnessing tricks rather than psychic powers, the more we are astounded.

Infamous is definitely an example of a charismatic and superb showman at the top of his game, with an unglitzy production that is as slick and memorable as anything you are likely to see this year.