Derren Brown: Secret

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Photo: Matthew Murphy Review
Just as the first rule of “Fight Club” is never talk about Fight Club, the first rule of the “Secret” – for both reviewers and audience members – is to tell everyone else as little as possible about exactly what happens each night inside Broadway’s Cort Theatre. And that’s not hard to do. Truth be told, I couldn’t possibly begin to explain how the show’s star, Derren Brown, the renowned British mentalist, seems to know what exactly so many audience members (yes, the show depends highly on mostly voluntary participation) are going to say, think or choose.

To Brown’s credit, he sometimes lets us in on his methods, especially early on in the 2 ½-hour show, but ultimately “Secret” contains more moment of “how did he do that?” than every variation of “The Illusionists” and every episode of “America’s Got Talent” put together. The result is one of the most entertaining evenings I’ve spent in a theater in a very long time!

Still what makes the show work so well is that not just that these feats of “magic” (for lack of a better word) are consistently inventive, but that Brown proves to be enormously genial company while performing them. He projects a rare combination of self-confidence and self-deprecation -- there’s none of the smarminess that afflicts some of his contemporaries – that makes you not only wish he would never leave the stage, but that you could take him out to dinner after the show.

Moreover, while there’s a bit of an intellectual bent to his patter, with its emphasis on how we all tell ourselves “stories” about the world – the show has been cleverly co-written and co-directed by Andy Nyman and Andrew O’Connor – Brown deliberately never makes you feel that he’s the smartest person in the room (even if he probably is). Indeed, his low-key charm (and that sexy British accent) practically ensures that every person he calls up on stage will feel comfortable interacting with him. (Yes, many of the audience members who end up as part of the sow seem so poised that one suspects they must be “plants,” but Brown assures us repeatedly that it’s not the case.)

So, here is the one thing I can absolutely tell you about “Secret.” You will be kicking yourself if you don’t snatch up a ticket while you can!
By Brian Scott Lipton

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Derren Brown

Open/Close Dates
Opening 9/15/2019
Closing 1/4/2020

Theatre Info
James Earl Jones Theatre
138 West 48th Street
New York, NY 10036