“We have reimagined what a night of illusion can be… I think we have liberated the magic show, it’s going to be a glorious thing”, quotes Derren Brown, renowned mentalist and illusionist recognised for his unique brand of magic which helped define the British magical landscape in the early naughties. Televisual feats defying expectation and putting magic on the map! Now crafting his latest stage show Unbelievable – a co-production with the Mercury Theatre Colchester, currently available to experience at the Criterion Theatre, Brown steps back from hosting and instead channels his skill through the charm and charisma of an ensemble of illusionists.
A rugged, broken down interpretation of ‘the magic show’, we’re invited to a few magical, behind the scenes secrets, plenty of audience participation and some of the world’s most famous magical feats. Magical history laced throughout the evening. From Prohibition America to modern day Britain, we’re treated with the joy of magic, Brown constructing an ambitious script never allowing for a dull moment to occur – there’s no doubt the show has an understanding of how to entertain.
Our hosts for the evening – Laura Andresen Guimarães, Izalni Batista Nascimento Junior, Alexander Bean, Samuel Creasey, Simon Lipkin, Yolanda Ovide and Hannah Price all tapping into a facet of the magic realm bringing with them their own perspective – like the multi-faceted nature of a dice ready to unfold their brand of trickery. The question is, in a time where we feel like we’ve seen everything a magic show can explore, can the genre push forward in anyway? The answer is yes – and Brown has the capability of doing so. Sometimes the evening can feel predictable, other times not. We all have our tastes and what this does well is that there are various tricks performs that I’m sure we all clasp onto a trick or two that we resonate with. The finale for me personally a powerful and emotive feat. Does Brown ‘reimagine’ what illusion can be? Yes. Unbelievable stripping back the glitz and the glam to allow for each trick to truly shine. Connection between the audience and the action on stage paramount. The presentation of each trick performed by relatable hosts the key I think to really continuing on the magical genre in our new day and age.
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Unbelievable is currently showing until Sunday 7th April 2024 at the Criterion Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…