Review: Derren Brown, Underground, Norwich Theatre Royal

Derren Brown Underground

Derren Brown Underground - Credit: Mark Douet

Derren Brown provided another evening of amazement at Norwich Theatre Royal... plus a surprise for reviewer Stacia Briggs' daughter.

Society is built on secrets and lies and so is this, Derren Brown's 'best of' show which weaves truth and fallacy into a complex tapestry of suggestion, mind manipulation, hypnosis and magic.

On a sultry evening in the city, Brown made several things very clear to us all: that during the show he would reveal a number of secrets, that everything he did would be grounded in reality even if it felt like magic and that none of us could tell anyone outside the room what had happened within it.

He may be a reviewer's nightmare, but oh my word he's an audience's dream.

Working in a set that resembled a Victorian parlour, bringing to mind séances held in darkened rooms, furious fanning swooning and the belief there's a bridge to another dimension which we can access, Derren rattled through a series of incredible feats of memory, cold-reading and direction from his crushed velvet Gothic cave.


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We know it's all trickery – because he tells us so – but that doesn't make what happens any less spine-tingling. Even better, Derren is a generous host, an intelligent showman, effortlessly funny and – joyfully – abundantly kind: this is feel-good magic, warm-hearted manipulation, no one will leave feeling embarrassed or upset, just uplifted and amazed.

In a show I am duty-bound to tell you absolutely nothing about (not that I would, spoilers are for spoilsports), which was my favourite bit? That's easy.

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Predictably it was when the ubiquitous Frisbee was thrown into the crowd to pick members of the audience to come on stage and it landed squarely in the lap of my 20-year-old daughter, Ruby.

Just a couple of years ago, this was a kid who was too self-conscious and shy to raise her hand in class to speak and here she was in front of more than a thousand people, loving being under Brown's spell. How far she's come.

Thank you for that magic moment, Derren, and for all the others last night, too.

Derren Brown: Underground is at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday June 23, box office 01603 630000.

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