Derren Brown

  • The List
  • 21 May 2007


(Picture: © Gary Moyes)

There’s something about the world of magicians that turns people right off. In the old days it was easy to be repelled by the over-the-top theatrics and dodgy bouffant hairdos as skimpily-clad women went around apparently helping their master cut up petrified, and usually female, victims. Nowadays, magicians appear to have a different kind of creepiness about them which compelled people to throw eggs at David Blaine while he crouched for 44 days in a Perspex box. Maybe folk just don’t like the sense that the contemporary illusionist believes themselves to be inherently superior to them and they are doing us a massive favour by allowing us to witness their mystical powers. Big show-offs, the lot of them.

‘If you do magic, it’s because you love it yourself and you love the experience of being fooled by something,’ insists Brown. ‘And that experience of having your belief system being slapped around and shaken up a bit is a really good one to have.’ It actually seems fairly perverse not to be at least a tiny bit blown away by the things which Derren Brown gets up to. Yes, you can taunt him for not having real bullets in the gun he fired at his head or mock him for the ropey caricatures he displays on his website. You could even be dismissive of his goatee beard. But all respect is surely due to a man who, in his recent TV series Trick or Treat, forced an IT guy to believe that he had become a ventriloquist’s dummy and managed to convince a psychologist that she was witnessing her own death in a car crash.

For his new sell-out tour, Mind Reader: The Evening of Wonders, he will be guessing personal details about random members of the audience before getting all Victorian and making tables float. Yes, Derren Brown is a big show-off. But a genius nonetheless.

(Brian Donaldson)

Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Thu 31 May; Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 1 Jun.

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