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Review: Derren Brown - Showman: I'd love to be able to tell you more about this show - but I can't...

Derren Brown is weaving his magic in Belfast and Derry.

REVIEW

Derren Brown: Showman

Grand Opera House

Until Saturday April 23

WHY was I attending a show that I am not allow to review?

Curiosity I suppose; I'd no idea what to expect, only that it was billed as being a show 'not to be missed'.

I remember years ago a magician performing at the Arts Theatre and during his act he hypnotised people and made them do silly things, including convincing them that he had taken their belly button.

I suppose it was hilarious as they went searching for their belly buttons, down through the audience and out into the bar area - all was well when the magician gave them back this important part of their anatomy.

Except for one man. The following morning he came back to the theatre in a state wanting to have another look round as he was still missing his belly button...

We had to get the hypnotist back to reassure him and make him whole again. I thought this was a terrible abuse of power and far from entertainment.

And this was the sort of show I was expecting from Derren Brown.

But how wrong I was. Brown is a superb showman. His act is sophisticated, friendly, enjoyable and there is wonder but never a feeling of discomfort.

As we waited for the show to start, Frank Sinatra was crooning away and a message asked us to set our phones to silent but to keep them on.

Jim and Doris were sitting in front of me and they were excited about what was to come - like me they had only heard of Derren Brown but were yet to be mesmerised in person by his skills and repartee.

As Sinatra sang The Best Is Yet To Come, a thin veil of mist covered the stage floor.

Then the showman himself walked on to roars of welcome from the packed house and he seemed to warm to it.

A slim man in an immaculate dark suit and white shirt, Brown looks younger than his 51 years.

From the word go, this mentalist, illusionist, magician and mind reader has the audience in the palm of his hand, deploying a gentle voice and persuasive patter.

With the use of the back wall and a cameraman we see everything that happens - close up magic, the props used during the show and the faces of audience members who dare to go on stage.

The first half is magic, the second half is hard to believe - I wish I could tell you more but Brown himself appealed to reviewers not to spoil it for others, so why not go and see for yourself.

You won't be disappointed and you certainly will scratch your head when you look back on what you experienced.

The show runs in Belfast until Saturday and is at the Millennium Forum in Derry from April 26-29.

Anne Hailes

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