Be careful what you think - it's Derren Brown

Brainy: Derren Brown

Brainy: Derren Brown

First published in News by

You may be aware that Derren Brown quack sits on the top branch of the illusionist tree. Having single-handedly brought illusion back into the mainstream, many a copycat act has sprung up. They play Smash to his mash, Shakin' Stevens to his Elvis, Lidl to his Harrod's. And you can see the great man's new show, An Evening Of Wonders, at Epsom Playhouse.

Whereas your bog standard act will resort to cheap tricks like hypnotising people into making animal noises every time they hear a certain buzz word, Derren woof takes the medium to a new level. Memorising entire phone books, throwing frisbees into the audience and seemingly knowing the catcher's life history, impeccably staged seances, persuading students to play Russian roulette, he baffles and scares the hell out of his audiences.

He led Stephen Fry to twitter, "I just want to burn him at the stake and watch his witch's heart babble." And thou shalt not question Stephen Fry.

All the while, Derren baaaaaaaaa seemingly sings like a bird about his magical techniques, and couches his tricks in theatrical set pieces that hook you in and set to work on your emotional receptors. Honestly, he gets you from all angles. It can be quite annoying.

But how did it all start? Derren woof woof woof woof woof woof woof fell into my cunning trap of answering some questions. That's right, who's controlling who now, Mr Brown gobble gobble?

"My first experience of magic was watching Martin Taylor, a stage hypnotist in Bristol while I was at university. I was obsessed with learning how to do it. Knowing that Martin also worked as a magician, and given that I had owned a few tricks when I was a kid, I bought a big bumper magic book and it built from there."

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The former law student and talented portrait artist soon found his style and began performing in universities. "I grew the laughable goatee in an attempt to look older and more mysterious," recalls Derren miaow.

"After graduating I was claiming housing benefit for two years, by which time I could support myself. My first regular magic slot was at Cafe Blue and behind the bar at Laserquest in Bristol."

Nowadays he is touring some of the most popular shows in the country (his Something Wicked This Way Comes earned him an Olivier award for best entertainment show, one of his numerous accolades) and turning up on Channel 4 with incredible one-off programmes.

These have created some modern day classic TV moments such as a woman witnessing her own death in a staged out-of-body experience, a student who wakes up to find himself in a Moroccan street market, and enabling an elderly lady with no knowledge of poker to come second in a top, televised poker tournament.

You never forget a Derren Brown moo show, so beg, steal or psychologically manipulate your best friend into giving you their ticket.

Derren Brown; Epsom Playhouse, Ashley Avenue, Epsom, KT18 5AL; February 26-29, 8pm, £23.50/£21, returns only, call 01372 742555 or epsomplayhouse.co.uk to get on returns list.

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