Theatre Review: Derren Brown Svengali

Derren Brown hypnotises audiences with new show SVENGALI – or does he?

I left the theatre pondering the eternal Derren Brown question – how much of that was staged?

It was an onslaught of literally unbelievable feats. He repeatedly urged us not to divulge what transpired, but it’s not giving much away to say I saw him suss someone’s profession merely from their stance, hypnotise swathes of the audience, and even dabble with possession and mind reading.

All of this accompanied by his riveting and witty commentary – his trademark habit of providing a superficially plausible explanation for every super human deed.

My morbid fear of audience participation only added to the excitement.


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He began by making a point of insisting that no actors, or “stooges”, would be involved and I desperately wanted it to be true. But that was coming from a man whose entire act is based around trickery and manipulation – would it be foolish to believe him?

It dawned on me that it didn’t really matter. I had been thoroughly entertained throughout and I knew the hypnotism was real at any rate – unless my companion was secretly on Brown’s payroll too.

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* Showing at the Shaftesbury Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2, until July 16.

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