Friday, 17 May 2013



Theatre Run: Monday 13 - Saturday 25 May 2013
Performance Reviewed: Thursday 16 May

Reviewed by Kyle Pedley

The shows of Derren Brown are oft difficult beasts to judge and review - partly because to divulge too much in the way of details and happenings would not only ruin the experience but also given the inquisitive and at times bafflingly cranial nature of the set pieces, mental gymnastics and psychology he employs any attempts to suitably explain or articulate what you can expect to see and experience would doubtless do the man, his showmanship and craft a disservice.

That is, of course, a lofty way of saying much of the time spent watching Derren Brown: Infamous can instantly be summed up with the age old adage of ‘just how did he do that?’. Which, let’s face it, is precisely what the majority of audiences going to see this latest show are expecting and hoping for, and on that front Infamous certainly delivers.

The genius and allure of Brown has always been his frank openness to acknowledge and tease the fact that none of what he does is claiming to be anything other than exceptionally clever and perfectly judged trickery, psychology and a myriad of other distinctly human (superhuman?) abilities. It creates the perfect dichotomy and engaging challenge to the audience - he abjectly tells us none of this is magic, psychic or the like and yet repeatedly bombards us with apparently impossible feats of statistical certainty, mental manipulation, apparent clairvoyance and a whole host of other almost literally unbelievable feats of brilliance. It’s captivating in its inherent contradiction, and this balance of tantalising the audience with re-assurance and fact only to dumbfound them with the seemingly impossible is a flair Brown has honed to perfection. 

As mentioned, to go into specifics regarding what to expect would be wholly unfair, and so variable and dependent on the audience is the show that no two are likely to be wholly the same, yet as a whole Infamous is a decidedly more personal and focused evening than his previous tour, 2011/12’s Svengali. Whereas Svengali had something of an over-arching narrative with a slant more towards spectacle and even shades of gothic horror, Infamous takes a far more back-to-basics, even personal approach. Whilst this does mean it lacks a little of the visceral wow factor of Svengali (though the stage design and projection work is nonetheless impressive), it makes the production as a whole a much more even, balanced and accessible affair, unsurprising after not only Svengali but also the bombastic scale of some of his recent TV outings with the likes of The Events and Apocalypse. And despite being something of a scale-down of sorts, Infamous compromises none of his trademark ability to entertain and amaze.

It’s a shrewd move, as much of what Brown delivers in Infamous is enthralling and astounding in its simplicity, and never registers as false or requiring suspending your disbelief that notch too far. Svengali demonstrated that as impressive as some of his showier moments are, their execution and profound impossibility (for that show the instance of an autonomous doll demonstrating almost telepathic ability) they could occasionally or momentarily create that slight nugget of disconnect and doubt that Infamous deftly avoids. It also feels a much more direct and personal show, Brown being irrepressibly witty, impassioned and energised and yet humble and frank, divulging slices of his own backstory and experiences throughout, tying them in to his set pieces neatly and effectively.

With a surprisingly feel-good and empowering message that ran throughout, and the aforementioned slew of brilliantly bemusing, varied and consistently engaging content, Infamous is another triumph, and further cements Brown’s standing as one of the nations most accomplished and effective stage entertainers, particularly in the almost indefinable niche of faux-magic he has forged for himself. It isn’t quite faultless or perfect - one trick in the second act seemed a little egregious and shoehorned in in particular, and some may take offense at the blunt, almost cold manner in which he targets a particular group he sets his sights on in the second act (though truth be told this was a personal highlight) - but regardless of these minor and potential gripes Infamous remains an incomparably exciting and involving feat of showmanship and ability. With his complete lack of pretence, false claims or hubris and the dizzying range, creativity and intricacy of the feats he pulls off, it seems almost impossible to think of anyone who won’t find something captivating, or at the very least intriguing, about the inimitable experience of seeing one of Brown’s shows live and in person, and getting the joy and infectiously thought-provoking thrill of finding out what makes the man so Infamous-ly impressive indeed.

(A)MUSINGS RATING - * * * * * (5 out of 5 Stars)

DERREN BROWN: INFAMOUS is running at the New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham from Monday 13 May to Saturday 25 May 2013.

CLICK HERE for more information on the shows' run at the New Alexandra and to book your tickets!
Alternatively phone the Telephone Booking line on 0844 871 3011.

Press tickets for this performance of Derren Brown: Infamous were provided courtesy of The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham directly. (A)musings Media gratefully acknowledges their generous invitation.

1 comment:

  1. hello! good movie review :) stop by sometime yes, I have the latest movie reviews :)


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