Review by Elyse Trevers
Do you want to know a secret? Sorry-I promised not to tell. I was sworn to secrecy and I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun of “Derren Brown: Secret” at the Cort Theatre. Performer Brown has brought his mind-blowing new show to Broadway and leaving audiences awestruck and baffled.
Throughout the show, he sends out teasers about the title. (Is that the secret?) We must, however, wait for until the end; it is well worth it.
Brown is a dapper, charming, self- effacing mentalist-psychic who has finely honed the skill of reading people, specifically their expressions and movements. In one trick, he uses the pressure of peoples’ arms upon his shoulder to determine the right answers. Then he confounds us again when he changes the method. He gently pokes fun at himself and the audience, but, all the while, there’s a softness and calm about him. He’s there to entertain, not wound. (When he ‘rejected’ one participant in the audience for another, he was totally apologetic.)
Partly psychic- partly mind reader, he explains a little of his trade, noting how people give themselves away. (I wouldn’t want to play poker with this guy!) He’s an illusionist with a lulling, cultivated voice and a British accent. He reminds us how our perceptions influence how we see the world and ourselves. As he performs, Brown seems to be delivering a peaceful sermon.
The two-hour show includes a variety of amazing stunts, many of which will have you scratching your head in bewilderment. This is a participatory show and the entire audience gets involved, from raising hands to filling out questions; from voting in a survey to watching a very short video. With the use of his camera man, Brown is able to include the folks in the mezzanine and balcony.
He tosses out frisbees to select his ‘helpers’ but if you don’t want to be involved, you simply pass the frisbee on. However, he had more than enough people eager to get onstage. He repeatedly reminds us that he doesn’t know anyone and hasn’t prepared people in advance.
He randomly selected from the predominantly young audience. I believed him and my trust was confirmed by the shocked expressions on peoples’ faces as he told them things that only they would know.
Some people want to figure out the tricks out. How did he do that, they wonder. Personally, I’d rather be not know. It’s so much more fun that way!