Mind over magic mat­ters

Der­ren Brown, the master of psy­cho­log­i­cal il­lu­sion, is back to amaze au­di­ences in Bucks with his most am­bi­tious show to date – Mir­a­cle. BRIAN CLAR­IDGE talks to Der­ren about his live shows and when we can ex­pect another tele­vi­sion spe­cial

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HE is ac­knowl­edged as one of the world’s most tal­ented live per­form­ers and a dark ma­nip­u­la­tor of magic and mind con­trol. Der­ren Brown is with­out ques­tion the master of psy­cho­log­i­cal il­lu­sion and Buck­ing­hamshire au­di­ences are in for a treat when this multi-tal­ented en­ter­tainer re­turns to Ayles­bury Water­side Theatre with a brand new one-man show, Der­ren Brown: Mir­a­cle.

The show opens on Mon­day, July 6 and runs through un­til Satur­day, July 11.

It prom­ises to be Der­ren’s most am­bi­tious show to date, although the con­tent of the show re­mains shrouded in mys­tery.

This will be Der­ren’s sev­enth show since 2003. He has toured ev­ery year since then and con­sis­tently amazes au­di­ences across the coun­try with his live stage shows, earn­ing him nu­mer­ous awards and ac­co­lades.

He has won both the Lau­rence Olivier Award for Best En­ter­tain­ment Show, and a Sil­ver Rose d’Or for Va­ri­ety. His last show, In­fa­mous, was uni­ver­sally ac­claimed by crit­ics and au­di­ence alike and tick­ets for all his live shows are snapped up from the mo­ment they go on sale.

I ask Der­ren if it gets harder to come up with new ideas for each show?

“In some ways it gets harder be­cause you don’t want to re­peat some­thing you have done pre­vi­ously but it’s never been about get­ting the next show big­ger and bolder. I sim­ply fol­low my in­stincts as to what’s right for each show whether it’s for TV or stage. It takes about a month to write each show and a fur­ther month of re­hearsals be­fore any public per­for­mances. I never know un­til the first night if the tricks are go­ing to work and I make changes as I go along, so it tends to be an on-go­ing process.”

Apart from his stage shows, Der­ren, 44, is widely known for his ap­pear­ances in TV spe­cials, such as Trick of the Mind and Trick or Treat. Since the first broad­cast of his show Der­ren Brown: Mind Con­trol in 2000, Der­ren has be­come in­creas­ingly well known for his mind-read­ing act. He has writ­ten books for ma­gi­cians as well as the gen­eral public.

Der­ren was pri­vately ed­u­cated at Whit­gift School in South Croy­don and stud­ied Law and Ger­man at the Univer­sity of Bristol. While there, he at­tended a hyp­no­tist show by Martin S Tay­lor, which inspired him to turn to il­lu­sion and hyp­no­sis as a ca­reer.

Whilst an un­der­grad­u­ate, he started work­ing as a con­juror, per­form­ing the tra­di­tional skills of close-up magic in bars and restau­rants. In 1992, he started per­form­ing stage shows at the Univer­sity of Bristol un­der the stage name Dar­ren V. Brown.

Although Der­ren’s per­for­mances of mind-read­ing and other feats of men­tal­ism may ap­pear to be the re­sult of psy­chic or para­nor­mal prac­tices, he claims no such abil­i­ties and fre­quently de­nounces those who do.

He says that he learnt skills as a hyp­no­tist, which he was not sure how to ap­ply un­til he started per­form­ing close-up magic. When asked whether he is able to de­tect lies, Der­ren claimed to be able to read sub­tle clues such as a mi­cro-mus­cle move­ments that in­di­cate to him if some­one is ly­ing.

Says Der­ren: “I am of­ten dis­hon­est in my tech­niques, but al­ways hon­est about my dis­hon­esty. As I say in each show, ‘I

mix magic, sug­ges­tion, psy­chol­ogy, mis­di­rec­tion and show­man­ship’. I hap­pily ad­mit cheat­ing, as it’s all part of the game. I hope some of the fun for the viewer comes from not know­ing what’s real and what isn’t. I am an en­ter­tainer first and fore­most, and I am care­ful not to cross any moral line that would take me into ma­nip­u­lat­ing peo­ple’s real-life de­ci­sions or belief sys­tems.”

He claims to never use ac­tors or stooges in his work with­out in­form­ing the view­ers.

In Tricks of the Mind, Der­ren writes: that to use such a ploy is ‘ar­tis­ti­cally re­pug­nant and sim­ply un­nec­es­sary’; fur­ther­more, he ‘would not want any par­tic­i­pant to watch the TV show when it airs and see a dif­fer­ent or rad­i­cally re-edited ver­sion of what he un­der­stood to have hap­pened.’ Any TV spe­cials in the pipeline? “I’m cur­rently think­ing about do­ing some­thing af­ter the cur­rent TV tour, how­ever, it’s still early days. Pos­si­bly to­wards Christ­mas or New Year,” he says with an air of op­ti­mism.

Daz­zling, thought pro­vok­ing and cap­ti­vat­ing are just some of the words to de­scribe Der­ren’s per­for­mances.

To book, call the box of­fice on 0844 871 7607 or book online at www. at­gtick­ets.com/ayles­bury. Book­ing fees ap­ply. The per­for­mance is not suit­able for chil­dren un­der 12 years of age.

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