Why theatre shows bring Derren the ultimate magic

MIND GAMES Derren Brown is loving his theatre tours
MIND GAMES Derren Brown is loving his theatre tours
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Derren Brown is – and this is putting it mildly – a very busy man.

The award-winning illusionist is heading off on a 128-date tour across the UK that includes a stop in Blackpool.

He’s a wealthy man who doesn’t need to flog his guts out, which begs the question why bother?

“Because I love it,” is the simple answer. “Performing a show is a huge delight. It doesn’t matter what sort of day I’ve had, the show picks me up and leaves me buzzing with adrenalin.

“Normally I’m fairly quiet and probably a little isolated, so being on stage provides a healthy balance.

“I get my days free to read or write and am able to travel round the country with a bunch of friends, all of us knowing we’re putting on a great show every night. I can’t imagine anything nicer.”

Brown, responsible for a string of enthralling TV specials like predicting the National Lottery numbers (successfully) and Russian Roulette, has toured every year since 2003.

This show is called Infamous and takes him all over the place (Belfast, Brighton, Newcastle, Llandudno, Canterbury … the list is endless) before coming to Blackpool’s Opera House for two nights on May 12 and 13. There is the odd downside, though, to being on the move so much.

“It’s tricky when you’re in a relationship, that’s the worst part about touring,” said the 42-year-old, who revealed he was gay in 2007.

“It’s a common thing with performers – you don’t see your partner for months and then it takes a while, especially for the one who’s been at home, to get used to being back together again.

“And if big things are going on in your partner’s life and you’re not around to support them, that’s hard too.

“We’re both very independent and have our own creative things going on, which helps a lot, but we’re going to make more of effort next year to see each other on the road.”

Brown, who was born in London and studied Law and German at university, was an aspiring magician for many years before getting his big break in 1999 when he was recommended to Channel 4.

His show, Derren Brown: Mind Control, was an immediate success, made him a household name.

“Most likely the next TV show will be the televised version of Infamous,” when asked what he might come up with after touring. Sadly a lot always has to be cut to fit these two-hour-plus shows into about an hour of actual TV time, so the TV version never compares to seeing the shows live. Beyond that, who knows? If people retain interest, then perhaps it’s time to try something very different.

“But at the moment I’m very happy being on tour. Stage is different from TV: it’s more enjoyable for me and a much more natural home for that sort of performance. In fact it’s a huge joy. And it’s theatre, which opens up a new kind of relationship with an audience that doesn’t happen with TV. I think it’s important in life to do what’s fun, rather than what you feel you ought to be doing and for me, at 42, that means I have less interest in trying to impress people with magic tricks, and a greater delight in creating these theatre shows.”

Tickets for his Opera House shows from £29.50. Visit www.blackpoollive.co.uk