I adore magic and related disciplines. In recent years I’ve been lucky enough to see some great variations, ranging from Penn & Teller’s playful look behind part of the curtain to Joshua Jay’s intimate masterpiece Six Impossible Things.
Somewhere in between and off to the side in content and presentation is another excellent experience I had the good fortune to attend, Derren Brown’s Secret.
I’ve heard a lot about Derren Brown and his particular type of magic, but this was my first time seeing him perform outside of a couple random clips over the years.
In fact brown doesn’t primarily call himself a magician at all, acknowledging his art is a combination of that and related and intertwined disciplines like illusion, misdirection, and showmanship. The term “mentalist” has been used at times. Brown’s act is largely psychological in nature, giving the appearance of things like mind reading, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, cold reading, etc.
He uses a variety of approaches and skills to generate and maintain interest, engagement, and amazement. One of the many things that sets his performances apart is the subtle and interesting use of a particularly technique that elevates the audience’s investment in the proceedings. I won’t specify to avoid spoilers (beyond that being a general policy for me when it comes to magic Brown reasonably asked details of the show no be shared), but it’s a masterstroke of showmanship and mastery of his craft.
Secret fully involves the audience in every aspect of the show and feels extremely interactive. Brown’s also chosen wonderful themes to explore, and the show is expertly built use them to enhance the impact of the magic and illusions at the same time. Secret is extremely engaging from start all the way through to a wondrous, satisfying finale.
Secret is on Broadway through Jan 4, 2020, and I highly recommend checking it out if at all possible.