AMAZING audiences time and time again with his astounding mind control and misdirection, Derren Brown is known as one of the world’s most renowned performers – and with good reason.
With live shows that have seen hypnotised members of the audience willingly down glasses of vinegar, whilst others have painlessly inserted needles into their hands with no trace of blood, his shows aren’t for the faint hearted.
And this year, the master of psychological illusion is hitting the road one last time, bringing his seventh and ‘most daring show yet’ to Southend – Miracle.
“Without getting too much into the content, this is the first show that is about things I find important,” he says, cryptically. “Others have had autobiographical bits in them, some more authentic than others, but this one is about things I find important. It has a philosophical underpinning I really care about. It’s ultimately, I suppose, about what makes us happier.”
Having toured the nation for the past 14 years with shows including Svengali, Enigma and Infamous, Derren is also known for his controversial TV programmes, which have seen him working with the public to predict the lottery numbers, survive an apocalypse, and most recently, manipulate someone into pushing a man off a roof in Pushed to the Edge – a show that caused outrage from some viewers.
“People I’ve spoken to seem to think it’s one of the best things I’ve done, which is lovely to hear,” says the 45-year-old. “But I switch off from any media response after TV shows go out. It’s a show that makes you feel uncomfortable, which of course means that some quarters will peddle their peculiar brand of outrage. I suppose that’s a sign that it’s worked. If I like it, and the participants got something out of it, then I’m happy.”
Derren is also hoping to keep participants happy this summer with the opening of his new ride Derren Brown’s Ghost Train at Thorpe Park in May. And although not much has been revealed about the 20 minute ride, it’s sure to be a hit for thrill seekers.
“I hope it’ll scare and delight in equal measure,” he says. “It’s been a huge project and an extraordinary opportunity to have fun with the latest technology and let my imagination run wild. Nothing of its kind exists, so I’ll be eager to hear from the first people who ride it and find out what they make of it. If all goes well, it’ll be amazing.”
For now though, Derren is very much focussed on his latest tour – one that may be his last.
“It’s been 14 years of touring, and that’s with writing a new show every two years,” he says. “I may do something overseas for a change, but nothing major here in 2017. After that I’m not sure. I love touring so I don’t imagine I’m stopping for good quite yet. But a break would be lovely, not so much from the touring itself, but from the creation of new shows. It’s a lot of work getting them up to speed.”
Following Miracle’s sell out tour last year and a critically acclaimed 10 week run in London’s West End, Derren was back on the road in February and is looking forward to returning to Southend this month.
“It’s an enormously enjoyable show to do,” he says. “And I’ve never toured straight after the West End before, which is fun as the show’s in such good shape.
“As there’s no way of testing how an audience will respond without having an audience, I just had to get up there and do it on the first night and see how it went,” he says. “It went very well, which was a huge relief. Since then we’ve continued to work on it and now it feels terrific. It’s a bold and ‘ballsy’ second half, as all my favourite things are. Once I realised it was going to work well – as it could have failed flat on its face – it’s been a joy to work on theatrically and get to a great place.”
Derren Brown Miracle shows at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend from 14 to 19 March. For tickets call 01702 351135.