Derren Brown is back to astonish and amaze 

ILLUSIONIST Derren Brown created his latest show about how tough times bring us together… and then watched as his theory was played out during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Showman tour was due to open on the first day of lockdown in March 2020 but, of course, got postponed.

Derren Brown (left) mystifies an audience member. Picture by Mark Douet

“Strangely, the show pre-COVID was, at its heart, about how the tough things in life that we feel isolate us, tend in fact to bring us together, and be the very things that we share,” explains Derren.

“And then lockdown happened, which was a strangely literal playing out of that theme. So, although the benefit of extra time has allowed us to re-work the show a little and change some aspects of it, its heart has remained the same.”

The “mentalist”, whose most famous stunts include playing Russian roulette live on TV, is known for the bold theatrics and close personal connection with the audience in his live shows.

He says Showman – now on the road and coming to Woking – will be no different.

“We, my little team and I, try to provide a kind of experience you wouldn’t get anywhere else,” he says. “Not at a play, not at a magic show, not anywhere.

“That’s always been a driving force, and I try to make the shows about the audience rather than about me.”

While he’s not prepared to give away too much of the show’s detail – for obvious reasons – Derren will talk about life on the road and what he’s missed from touring.

“The headspace,” he muses. “My old rhythms of finding coffee shops, writing all afternoon and then heading out to do the shows in the evening. And spending time with my small crew.

“There is something liberating in having just the one clear thing, the show, to be concerned with. The first few weeks it might be finding its feet, but after that it’s just tweaks and improvements, and I get to be this well-rehearsed, charismatic version of myself night after night.”

This is his 16th year on tour and each show has to be built from scratch.

“The challenge of finding ideas we haven’t done before both gets harder, of course, but therefore more interesting,” he said. “There’s no rhyme or reason to what makes a show easy or difficult to put together. They’re always a mountain to climb, but the views are terrific.”

Derren brings Showman to the New Victoria Theatre in Woking, from Tuesday 7 to Saturday 11 June.

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