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Review: Derren Brown's Showman at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

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"If you're reviewing the show, please don't talk about anything that's in it."

These were the words of Derren Brown before the curtains were brought down on his latest show at The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury.

Derren Brown in action in Showman Pic: Lawrence Hyne
Derren Brown in action in Showman Pic: Lawrence Hyne

It's fair to say his plea makes my task somewhat trickier, but even with free rein I'd likely run out of superlatives to describe the masterpiece that is Showman.

Because it was truly like nothing I've experienced before.

For two hours and 20 minutes Brown had the audience in the palm of his hands, and could have held us there for as long as he pleased.

I'd not seen him live before, and was immediately impressed with how slick an operator he is, displaying a genius that is harder to appreciate when watching him on TV.

He's an illusionist, a magician, a mind-reader and much more, with every mesmerising segment of the show seamlessly woven into the next.

An audience member joins Derren Brown on stage Pic: Lawrence Hyne
An audience member joins Derren Brown on stage Pic: Lawrence Hyne

A key part is audience participation, with those willing to be mercilessly, and often hilariously, manipulated selected through a blind throw of a frisbee to eliminate any suggestion they'd been hand-picked.

It made what is a one-man show feel more like a collective experience, with theatre-goers together sharing in one jaw-dropping moment after another.

I didn't make it to the stage myself, but feel those who did would have taken that something extra from the experience, unburdened by any lingering doubts over the authenticity of what they had witnessed.

But to want for more perhaps seems a little greedy as I was utterly captivated from start to finish.

Brown is a Showman in every sense of the word, and perhaps the greatest.

I went in with my mind open and left with it blown.

* Brown took his tour to the Marlowe last week for a six-day run, but the opening show – which I was due to attend – had to be postponed after production trucks were caught up in heavy traffic.

For more on what's on at The Marlowe click here.

For more entertainment news from across Kent click here.

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