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Derren Brown: Underground review

  • Theatre, West End
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

A mind-boggling compilation of master magician Derren Brown’s best tricks

Derren Brown’s latest live act, ‘Underground’ – an amalgamation of his favourite bits from past shows – is all about secrets. His secrets, your secrets, the secrets of the person sitting next to you. And he wants the show itself to stay a secret – which is important to say right now, in case you’re wondering why this review is lacking in a few specifics.

What I can say is that ‘Underground’ is brilliant fun and more thought-provoking than you might expect. The master of mind control explores the idea of free will with the help of a good number of audience members (don’t worry – it’s mainly willing volunteers). It also touches on the history of illusion – there are small (and very atmospheric) nods to the magic shows of eras past, like buzzing light bulbs, with Derren kitted out in tails and of course the sumptuous backdrop of the Playhouse. 

Don’t, whatever you do, leave at the interval. The first half feels like a bit of a warm-up – it’s after the break that things really hot up. Derren ‘reads’ members of the audience with such detail and accuracy you’ll be going over and over in your mind what happened. But trickery aside the show is just wonderfully engaging. And Derren himself is a master showman, completely at ease, effortlessly funny and, of course, far more in control than you give him credit for. Until the end, that is, which climaxes in a fantastic finale that’s as satisfying as you could wish for.

Written by
Gail Tolley


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