Derren Brown: Infamous
Liverpool Empire
30th March 2013

Reviewed by Rick Tynan

At a Derren Brown live performance there are decisions to consider, many choices to make and the outcomes really do ‘mess with your head’! Predominantly, the audience is in the 20-40s age range and loves every second. The reactions are big and enthusiastic and build throughout the show and I’m now a convert to the power and style of mental magic performed by Derren Brown.

Right now I’ve got a choice, because, in addition to the usual ban on photography, the audience was sworn to secrecy about the show before we left. Even if this was a final piece of beautifully presented showmanship you get the feeling that Derren Brown might actually know if and when you broke that promise! However, there is a grain of truth in the hype here. If I thought that you were the sort of person who would never be tempted to go and see a Derren Brown live show then I would not hesitate for a second to describe the show’s contents in great and graphic detail. But if I did this and you then saw the show live I would have spoiled a special experience. In this case second hand would be second best.

So what am I willing to divulge? Derren Brown and his formidable team, headed by Andy Nyman, have crafted an excellent show. It is just Derren and the audience doing an utterly convincing job of demonstrating paranormal activity without special powers. An intimate atmosphere was achieved through split screen projection and the use of roving microphones and cameras. When individuals in the audience interacted with Derren on stage their reactions were transmitted instantly throughout the whole auditorium. Some areas already covered by the television shows such as Faith Healing and Fake Mediums were revisited powerfully during the show but always with great humour and sensitivity to the audience helper. In addition Derren drew upon his experiences growing up and his characteristic approach to mentalism to give the show its shape and form.

For the magicians who are only interested in effects and their modus operandi this review is going to disappoint. I am not going to list the tricks or speculate about them. Anyway, there were few standard effects in the show and no standard presentations. In other words, at this level, it’s not (so much about) what you do but (everything about) the way that you do it. Seamless showmanship and ownership of the genre are the hallmark of ‘Infamous’ so if you get a chance to go and watch Derren Brown just go and enjoy it.

I predict you will!

© Rick Tynan, April 2013