Regent Theatre Stoke On Trent and touring
Directed by Andy Nyman& Andrew O’Connor
Produced by Michael Vine, Andrew O’Connor & Derren Brown for Vaudeville Productions Ltd.
Reviewer Mark Ritchie
This is the seventh stage show presented by the ever beguiling and engaging Derren Brown. His punishing tour schedule must have required real stamina to sustain the level of performance required, given the nature of what has been conceived by the production known as Miracle.
Having viewed the last Derren Brown show ,Infamous, last year at The Palace Theatre in London’s west end last year, after kindly being provided with tickets by Brown’s agent Michael Vine, I felt lucky as tickets were like gold dust.
The first noticeable aspect of the new show, Miracle, is the elaborate stage setting. Infamous was a stripped down, empty stage production, in which Brown delivered a self-revealing portrait of his early life as a victim of bullying and his bid to become reconciled to being ‘different’. Perhaps by personally naming those who bullied him, a character perhaps more gleefully vengeful than self effacing was revealed for the first time. It this show was a cathartic way of facing his demons in public, it certainly worked on every single level and Infamous proved to be a personal triumph for team Derren Brown and in particular for the man himself.
In previous productions, in particular Enigma and Something Wicked This Way Comes, Brown proves quickly and shrewdly to be in the amazing business. Infamous was clearly a more personal journey, with Brown’s almost palpable tension coming across during the performance.
During that show Derren Brown shatters the illusions of those who believe in the self-proclaimed powers of spiritualist mediums. At the opening of the second half Brown invited around 50 members of the audience on stage and cold reading their body language, with the aid of cameras, unrivalled observational skills and the odd bit of guesswork.
The new show is much more mechanical, with long time collaborators Andy Nyman and Andrew O’Connor coming up with an aesthetically pleasing series of revelations, which succeed in baffling and even perplexing many nonplussed audience members.
There is a philosophical edge to much of the content here in Miracle. Brown’s line in patter is more prosaic this time around and even poetic at times. The sheer level of show business performance value and presentational skills are everything.
Remaining on the road, at a different theatre every week for six nights a week, until the end of July this show is slick and tight, but it must be physically exhausting to maintain the schedule. The venues which remain on this leg of the Miracle tour are in Sunderland, Hull, York, Aylesbury Leicester, Liverpool, Northampton and Norwich. There are plans afoot for this Miracle show to reconvene for a second leg of its tour early in 2016. If you didn’t catch it this time around, I strongly advise you to keep a weather eye out on Brown’s web-site at www.derrenbrown.co.uk
The house full signs up and down the country tell their own story, of a man on a mission to amaze. I for one can see no further than Derren Brown when looking for someone with the ability to winsome on the one hand, while simultaneously providing a head-scratching, utterly confusing and absolutely controlled and controlling master class. Derren Brown yet again provides a compelling argument to suggest that he may just be the greatest of all British stage speciality entertainers.
The surprising thing, from the point of view of the audience, is that no-one seems surprised at Brown’s capability to shock and enthral. As a reviewer, it is a pleasure to sit and enjoy a master at work. As a punter, I enjoy being baffled and nobody does it like Derren!