Grand Opera House, York
Until Sat Jul 18, 7.30pm
“Right, enjoy the show. And I’d really appreciate it if you could keep the contents a secret. If you’re being kind and you’re writing a review, I hope you can be imaginative enough to not mention any spoilers” – Derren Brown, in the programme for Miracle, his new live show, taking place all this week at the Grand Opera House.
No pressure, then. Just like reviewing The Mousetrap without revealing the murderer – although at least, in that case, I could talk about the basic story!
I think I can safely say that there are some things any fan expects from a Derren Brown show, and they are all present in Miracle.
The items thrown into the audience to find random participants. The wit, and cheeky innuendo.
The startling displays of mentalism.
But this show also offers something unexpected, and genuinely astounding – and I can’t tell you what it is.
All I will say (and I don’t think this is a spoiler, as it is almost the first thing Brown says) is that the show is about happiness.
The set offers few clues. A shabby Victorian room, sparsely furnished, with faded wallpaper, the woodwork and low ceiling a matt black.
To one side of the stage is a sombre black and white portrait on an easel. At the rear of the stage looms a huge clock face, sonorously ticking away the seconds.
Derren Brown bursts into these dowdy surroundings like a Catherine wheel in a three-piece suit, flinging out patter, predictions and random objects. His showmanship is impeccable.
— Derren Brown (@DerrenBrown) July 13, 2015
Live and dangerous
As always, the front of house staff were friendly and very helpful with my wheelchair, including contacting me by phone that afternoon to check that I would need a seat removed, to accommodate my chair.
Level access is from partway down King Street, but the box office staff need to be alerted so that they can unlock the door. There are accessible toilets, and there is always an usher nearby if you need help.
His live shows have much more jeopardy than his televised works – we know there is no clever editing here, and that things could, at any moment, go disastrously wrong.
To make sure we don’t miss even the smallest nuance of the action, he is joined on stage by a cameraman whose live feed is shown on video screens.
This is Derren Brown’s 13th year of touring, and it shows in his ability to manipulate his enthusiastic audience. He can make us laugh at one minute, and gasp the next.
At other times, if I had had the proverbial pin, dropping it would have clanged like a steel pipe falling from scaffolding.
He clearly loves what he does, which is just as well – this tour is 109 dates long.
And that’s really all I can tell you. You’ll have to see it yourself to find out the rest…