For me, one of the biggest thrills in life is seeing something that you simply can't explain. Some people want to learn all of the secrets behind how an illusion or trick is performed, but I enjoy that sensation of feeling completely unable to process how something was done. Don't get me wrong, if someone wants to let me in on a few secrets, I'll listen and marvel at the skill involved in bringing it all together on stage, but in all honesty, for me, part of the fun is in not knowing how an effect was achieved. When it's a mystery, it's all the more magical, after all. I like few things better than sitting down to watch a magic show, or a psychological illusion. I'm cheerfully waiting to have my mind blown...
And so it was that I sat down in my seat at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth, to watch the incredibly talented Derren Brown's latest stage show, Miracle.
Seeing one of Derren's shows is a strange experience, in as much as even if you've seen him live before (as I had), you still don't entirely know what to expect. After all, this is a man who has played Russian Roulette with live bullets and lived to tell the tale. This is a man who, on his Svengali tour, had me genuinely believing that my arm was made of wood and beyond the control of my body. This is a man who disproved mediumship, whilst telling audience members all about their dead relatives...
Derren quite rightly frowns upon spoilers, so I won't give away any of the secrets from his Miracle show. What I will say, is that I watched my mum (a "Derren virgin," as she put it) shuffle closer to the edge of her seat as the show progressed. I watched her mouth begin to hang open, until at one point, her jaw dropped completely. At one moment in the show, I looked to my left and right, at my mum and my friend Lizzie beside me and simply shrieked: "What the actual f***????!!!! That's not possible!!!"
It's reactions like that, that make Derren Brown's shows so special. From the man in the row in front of us, who turned to his girlfriend and said "I don't know how the HELL he did that..." to the woman who ended up on stage and who was later overheard in the car park beside the theatre, numbly muttering "I swear it was real," over and over, the gasps of amazement are a delight to behold.
Derren's shows usually centre around a theme and Miracle is no different. For this show, Derren is analysing the passing of time, the stories we tell ourselves and the ability to step outside of ourselves. I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say that it's a show that will amaze you and make you think.
But in amongst the trickery, the mind-boggling stunts and the eeriness, there's warmth and humour. Derren knows how to entertain a crowd. He knows how to encourage nervous participants up onto the stage. He knows how to relax an entire audience with a joke. I can definitely say that I laughed out loud probably just as many times as I gawped in bewilderment. Although, that wasn't all down to Derren... whoever it was who farted loudly during a serious moment of complete silence: I salute you, my gassy friend.
And Derren, I salute you, too. What a show! Yet again, I walked out of the theatre in a state of awe, feeling a childlike wonder at what I'd seen.
I don't want to spoil it for anyone else. I don't want to know how it's all done. I just want more of it.