The Palace theatre is fast becoming one of the least safe places in the West End. For the past year theatregoers in the front rows of the stalls have been at risk of a significant soaking thanks to the on stage downpour in Singin’ In The Rain. Now the auditorium’s entire population is in danger of becoming the subject of one of Derren Brown’s latest projects, with every audience member a potential participant.
We’ve seen everything from armed robberies to lottery predictions in Brown’s previous work, but his latest stage show Infamous promises something totally different, as the master of psychological illusion and his long-time collaborator Andy Nyman digress from the formula with which they have had such great success in the past.
The title is ominous and so is the scene with which you’re confronted on entering the auditorium; an almost entirely empty stage with an unsettling gothic backdrop looking back at you. As the performance begins, audience members await their fate with both nerves and anticipation as Brown hurls his trademark frisbees in order to select the evening’s participants.
Brown’s show may focus on the idea of mind control and psychological illusion, but his talent for storytelling and inherent sense of humour adds an element of stand-up comedy to the production, making the performer compelling to watch even when he isn’t warping logic beyond recognition.
He is evidently a man of many talents. Not only does he excel at magic, hypnotism or whatever means by which he achieves these feats, he is brimming with drive and enthusiasm, proving to be an inspirational speaker as he delves into his own personal thoughts – as well as those of the individuals before him – to recount intimate stories about his agonies at school and growing up in denial about his sexuality.
While it is likely you’ll leave the theatre without a thread of understanding as to how any of it is achieved, there is a good chance that the experience will provide you with a refreshed understanding of fractions, not to mention an enjoyable evening packed full of surprises that render you speechless, which is just as well, as you’re not allowed to tell anyone anyway.