Review: Derren Brown’s Showman (Tour)

Tuesday 23rd August 2022 at Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House.


Derren Brown’s Showman is certainly one of the most aptly named shows out there. Brown is many things on stage: storyteller, comedian, illusionist, mentalist – he is a gifted entertainer and his showmanship delivers an impressively captivating few hours.

If you’ve seen any of Brown’s TV work, you’ll have some idea of the ways in which he has demonstrated an uncanny ability to manipulate or even seemingly “read” the minds of others. To see that skill live on stage is both thrilling and often a little disconcerting – though this show is also surprisingly moving in places.

Assisted only by a small team of bustling, unobtrusive assistants, impactful sound and lighting and a few props, Showman offers a Barnum-era aesthetic and a false sense of simplicity to underscore the impossibilities we are shown. What’s special about Brown though, aside from those mentalist abilities (which I can’t discuss much, having promised to keep the secrets), is his incredible stage presence and easy humour. He may have some unnerving capabilities, but he’s so amiable and charming that you can’t imagine anyone not forgiving his playful antics.

With this show, you can expect plenty of variety with his tricks and tales and you’ll wind up feeling thoroughly entertained if nothing else. If you’ve a mind to though, you’ll also find yourself a little bamboozled too – it’s all down to how willing you are to put yourself in the hands of the master manipulator (don’t worry though, everything is done on a voluntary basis and there’s plenty of opt-out direction).

Suffice to say, the Act 1 finale is jaw-dropping stuff, but the real gut punch is at the very close of the show – those moments alone are worth the trip, but there’s much else to impress besides.

Whether you “believe” or not, it’s hard to rationalise some of the events of this show thanks to the impeccable showmanship of its star – and that’s the magic of Mr Derren Brown.

You can catch Showman at Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House until August 27th 2022 – tickets and more information can be found here.

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