It’s A Kind Of Magic

Derren Brown’s nationwide tour Miracle is once again leaving audiences wide eyed in wonder. The king of magical illusion explains how the witnesses are just as much a part of the show as he is.

As the master of psychological illusion, Derren Brown knew he wouldn’t need to rely on divine intervention when he named his new stage show Miracle. Yet that didn’t mean that as the tour began in March, he wasn’t wracked with self-doubt. “It was quite a bold show and a bit of a risk in terms of whether or not it would actually work, whether the effects could actually be obtained and whether people would go with it.”

He says with some relief that “both elements seem to have turned out quite well”. That won’t come as a surprise to those who have closely followed Brown’s beguiling mix of hypnosis, illusion, psychology and old fashioned showmanship on stage and on television.

Miracle is Brown’s seventh full nationwide tour in 13 years. He loves taking his show around the country, because it gives him the chance to revel in the idiosyncrasies of towns and cities across the UK. Ask him about any of the upcoming signposts on his tour and he will instantly tell why he likes going there. Of Norwich, he says: “It’s always a lovely day. It’s a very lovely theatre. The city is beautiful. It’s always one of my favourites.” He goes on to say, “Northampton always has a cosy feeling to it for me as it always ends up being the closest one to home. There’s a lovely little tea shop. It’s a lovely place to go.” Brown also describes Leicester as having, “one of the prettiest shopping districts of any of the places on tour. DeMontford Hall is a stand out place; it’s very different from most of the places we play, which tend to be theatres, so it’s always exciting to do it in a different sort of venue.”

One of his favourite stop offs on tour, however, remains Liverpool. “It is one of a very tiny handful of cities where there is a palpable sense of an audience identity, a strong sense of community and energy and for a show like mine that feeds off that stuff it’s just amazing. There’s maybe two or three cities in a tour that you really look forward to and Liverpool is always one of them – it doesn’t matter what night of the week I do the show, it’s always an amazing response. It’s fantastic.”

It’s no coincidence that Brown should reserve special praise for Liverpool’s enthusiastic response to his performance. He confesses that on the surface, Miracle, like shows before it, must run to the script that he painstakingly worked out with collaborators Andrew Nyman and Andrew O’Connor. “It is essentially the same show every night. There’s no way around that, the only thing to do is nudge it and make it fresh each night you perform it and make sure you’re in the moment when you perform it.”

But he also readily admits that, “lots of things that I do, the show relies on people being responsive in the audience” and, with Miracle especially, crowd participation is vital for the show’s overall effect.

“I am only one character, and everyone else is taking part too. They provide what’s different and I have to work with that from night to night, particularly in this show and particularly in the second half of this show. It’s quite a nice feeling as a performer when you don’t quite know what’s going to happen and where it’s going to go. That is nice when you’re doing a show night after night, you’ve got to have that feeling. The fun of not quite knowing what the audience will provide for half of the show from night to night.”

It might be the audience providing half the fun, but it is still Brown that is producing all of the magic.

Derren Brown: Miracle is currently on a national tour. For more details visit: www.derrenbrown.co.uk