In the handful of times Derren Brown has worked in the USA, whether for his UK television specials Messiah (2005) or Miracles for Sale (2011), there has always been a degree of separation. He’s usually been undercover or pulling the strings on an unsuspecting member of the public. With last year’s Sacrifice being his first TV special made exclusively for Netflix, it makes sense for Brown to utilise his increased profile in the US to cross the pond and flex his muscles on the Great White Way.
As any followers of Brown’s work will agree, his stage shows are the best examples of his unique brand of magic, psychology and showmanship. The American audience at SECRET, now running at the Cort Theater, may be new to Brown’s work. But one thing’s for sure, they will all leave as fans.
Originally seen off-Broadway in 2017, SECRET, much like the subsequent UNDERGROUND in London’s West End, offers up a Greatest Hits of sorts. But in the years since some of these signature routines debuted, they’ve only gained layers and further resonance. Per the show’s title, the contents remains strictly confidential. To a journalist, this career-long ask of secrecy from the press makes reviewing any of his shows tricky. But it’s with good reason: a Derren Brown show is best experienced fresh.
Like any "good ole’ fashioned magic show" there are elements of complete wonder, forcing you to do a double take in disbelief. Although no rabbits are pulled out from hats, rugs are most definitely pulled out from underneath.
One of Brown’s many skills is being able to unite a roomful of strangers and remind us what we all have in common. This is more than just a framing idea. Anyone lucky enough to catch one of Brown’s iconic frisbees might just have a life-changing experience on-stage. For the rest of us, watching these interactions take place will be nothing less than life-affirming. Because that’s what this headline performer does best - reminds us that we’re all human and that life is an incredible thing. And that I think, is his most impressive feat.