Monday, 12 April 2010

Derren Brown: Enigma Tour

Derren Brown, originally uploaded by Brown Towers

On 9th April 2010, I had the privilege to see one of Derren Brown's Olivier award nominated shows from his Enigma tour, live at Milton Keynes theatre. The day leading up to the event was one of suspense, excitement and giddiness..and I hadn't even arrived at the venue yet!

My earliest memory of Milton Keynes was on a school "field-trip" (as they say in the US), where we were learning about how the town had been developed over the years. It was a whirlwind of Peace Pagodas, concrete cows and shopping centres. Since then, I have been mostly concerned with the shopping centres, especially during the Christmas period. Up until that day, I had never seen a performance at its theatre. To be fair, I'm not much of a theatre connoisseur - I can literally count on one hand the times I have been to a theatre to watch a performance. I should really make more of an effort to be a bit more cultured, and do this more often.

I arrived at the theatre nice and early, after consulting a series of instructions provided by Google Maps. The venue isn't too far from where I live, but I have previously had some bad experiences with said service, and wasn’t going to risk being late to the show. As with a lot of buildings in Milton Keynes, the theatre’s modern architecture was very stylishly conceived, and constructed. As I entered, I was greeted by the sight of copious padded, red chairs being occupied by fellow theatre goers, who were waiting in the foyer for the show to start. As I perched myself onto a grey cushioned pillar seat, I couldn’t help but notice that an orchestral version of “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?” by the band Travis was playing in the background. It’s one of my favourite songs, evoking memories of troubled times. Some may think “why would you like a song that has negative connotations?” Well, the fact that I’ve independently overcome those events is what stays with me. As I sat listening to the music, tapping my foot along to the cello and violin sequences, I began taking in the attendees – they were mostly very young. No doubt, Derren’s spectacular sequence of shows, "The Events", caught the imaginations of the youth of this country, failing that, at least of this region.

A muffled and somewhat indistinguishable voice came over the tannoy (do people still call it that..?), announcing that the door for the show was now open. We all enthusiastically proceeded towards the room. I clumsily stared at the floor, looking for my row; I had gone too far down and had to retrace my steps. I eventually found it after bumping into a few people, and barely avoided stepping on a few toes. The place was enveloped by darkness, with a mixture of music being seamlessly piped into the room. A few minutes of darkness went by...but then the curtains raised, and the stage was revealed in all its glory. I’ve watched all of the filmed theatre shows on TV, and online, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the grandiose nature in which the stage was set. I’m going to have a girly moment here, and describe the decorative golden lettering used as divine. I suddenly began to appreciate where my seat was situated. I was sitting in the stalls, but not quite near the front. However, the seats nearer to the front were “below” the stage, meaning that those sitting in front had to crane their necks upwards, to watch the show. I, on the other hand, was sitting in a slightly raised area, which was elevated to the same height as the actual stage. In comparison with my house, the distance I was from the stage was the length of my living room, and in my opinion, it was perfect!

During the 30 minutes leading up to the start of the show, the anticipation grew. More and more people flooded in, with stomps echoing around. A few announcements were made in an eerily familiar voice…and the show began. Now, to be fair, I won’t be revealing any spoilers about the show, since I’ve been sworn to secrecy, along with all the other attendees; furthermore, what’s the point in me divulging all the secrets of the show? It would only spoil the fun for those who haven’t seen it yet, and ruin expectations. However, I do have it within me to reveal the following:

  • It is an astoundingly brilliant show that will take your breath away, and will surely stay with you for a long time to come.
  • Regardless of whether you are an avid fan of Derren Brown, hypnosis, the paranormal, “psychic ability” etc., or you are simply a casual viewer, you will be thoroughly entertained;
  • Derren Brown looks as sharp in a suit in real life, as he does on TV (seriously, those are some nice suits!). Moreover, Derren Brown IS as sharp and witty in real life, as he is on TV.
  • There is a lot of audience participation with the use of the infamous death-defying, flying Frisbees  - get in their way and catch them at your own peril! This concludes that the probability that stooges are used during the show is very slim. Moreover, it does not matter where you are sitting – if the Frisbee chooses you, you are coming down onto the stage!
  • Be prepared to hear a lot of simultaneous gasping, ascending from the audience, echoing throughout the entire theatre, like a giant reverberating…thing. Along with the gasps, there will be frequent shrieks of delight and surprise, laughter, and indeed much applause.
  • During the show, you will constantly be asking yourself, “how the **** did he do that?!” Come to think of it, this question will remain with you for a considerable amount of time after the show.
  • The show flows effortlessly between tricks and charming regaling by the man of the hour (well, 3 hours, to be precise) himself.
  • The finale is something very special J
  • Finally, everyone should go see it (caution: you may wet yourself with sheer glee).

On a slightly sour note, the night that I attended there were a group of obnoxiously loud theatre-goers sitting near the back, within one of the upper circle areas, who were probably teenagers who took advantage of the drinks bar. Derren referred to them as, excuse my French, “pricks” near the end of the show, much to the delight of the audience.

As the show ended, it hit me that not many people are aware know that they are actually able to meet the showman after the show, at the stage door. I watched as a vast majority headed towards the car park; initially, I wasn’t sure where the stage door was, but soon caught on after seeing a few keen fans walking around the building, clutching onto books and other DB-related paraphernalia. I followed suite, clutching onto a poster and a program, hoping I wasn’t to be molested by a passing bat – the lack of lighting in the outer “non-goers” area of the theatre is the only drawback of the beautifully designed MK theatre. A handful of people had gathered outside the door, possibly enough to fill a row in the theatre. There was a little wait which, once again, seemed to take forever; each flash of movement from behind the glass would cause us all to perk up, ready to catch a glimpse of the one we were waiting for.

Eventually, he came out. It was a rather surprising encounter – for one, this was the first time I’d seen him clothed in anything but a suit. He sported casual wear, including a dapper cap, which made him look, well, normal. Secondly, he was extremely friendly and rather humble. It’s difficult to deny that over the years Derren Brown has gained rapid celebrity status, through the increasing media coverage from numerous shows, live and otherwise; and rightly so – some say that he has redefined his field, and has confounded and intrigued the country (nay, the world) with his various illusions. As I waited patiently, the fans slowly dispersed until it was my turn to say hello.

We chatted momentarily about the show, and I revealed that this was my first time seeing him live and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and hoped to do so again soon. I was feeling rather light headed after one of the tricks which the majority of the audience took part in; he reassured me that the effects would wear off fairly soon, and I would be as right as rain. He signed my program, and then my poster; the latter led to a discussion of a previous competition which had taken place last year, which was organised by the admin of his blog. There had been a few incidents which had taken place on Twitter, where those taking part got a bit “over excited”, and began bombarding him with tweets questioning what he knew about it. The truth was, as he reiterated on the night, he knew it was taking place, but was very confused about the whole issue as he did not know anything about what it involved as he was busy developing other concepts, such as his new book. I felt it was my duty to apologise on behalf of my fellow excited competitors, but he didn’t mind – he said it was all fairly reasonable, considering that it was a rather immersive experience. He thanked me for attending the show and acquiring  a poster, and gave me a quick peck on the cheek. We took a photo together, thanks to a kind young girl who offered after my own camera wasn’t working properly in the dark surroundings, resulting in an "epic fail", as the youth of the Internet say.

The drive home was one where I grinned like an idiot throughout the entire journey, silently recalling all that had happened in as much detail as I could. As I reached home, my light-headedness had swiftly turned into a full-blown headache; I doubt very much that this had anything to do with an after effect of the trick from earlier – more likely, it was the outcome of coming down from an extreme adrenaline rush from earlier at the stage door. After all, if you know me personally, you’ll know that I’m not naturally a chatty person, but at the stage door adrenaline definitely kicked in, resulting in me nattering at speed; truth be told, I surprised myself immensely.

I definitely encourage people to see this show at least once. After all, Derren does not do live theatre shows that frequently. As for for me, I will hopefully be seeing it again in May J

Edit: I managed to see the show again on 1st May at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham - it was as wonderful this time as in Milton Keynes..if anything, it was a bit more special this time as I managed to get onstage after being chosen by a frisbee!. J
I took a few  more photos of the stage. They didn't turn out that well, but I decided to have a bit of fun with the neon glow setting of Photoshop ;)

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely post! Thanks for that! Your experience of Enigma sounds quite similar to my own, including the reaction to meeting Derren.

    "silently recalling all that had happened in as much detail as I could"
    That is exactly how I felt too. :)

    By the way, I found this post via the tags you attached on twitter. Thanks. :)