The UK’s Derren Brown has a new, innovative stage show called “Svengali.” It opened March 9, 2011 – almost a month ago, but people are keeping pretty tight-lipped about it. Fans like myself want to know what’s in the show. Here are the best spoilers I have been able to round up so far, based on some gossip from those who have been to the show (much of which has originated on my blog, AboutDerrenBrown):
The stage set-up stays the same throughout the show. You can see a picture of the stage here: Flickr Svengali photo. If you poke around on Flickr, you can find other photos of the stage as well, but all of the shots look pretty much the same. It is vaguely robot-themed, which fits with Derren’s main illusion.
As always, Derren Brown asks volunteers to fill out forms, which can be used to choose people from the audience to participate in the show. [You can see comments about this in a thread at TalkMagic]. Volunteers do go up on stage during the show, and at least one is made to stick a need through his/her skin, obviously under the influence of hypnosis.
The centerpiece of the show is the Svengali trick. The original Svengali was a fictional character – an evil hypnotist who controlled the fictional singer for whom the 1894 novel “Trilby” was named. Derren Brown’s Svengali is an automaton (aka, robot or doll) that he claims is Hungarian. The automaton can read the minds of members of the audience.
On the way into the show, guests’ hands are stamped with the number “9889” – see photo here: Flickr 9889 Svengali photo. The number is made to seem mysterious in the show, and is somehow involved in the finale. During the narration, Derren explains that there are 9889 pieces in the Svengali automaton.
As in his prior shows, Derren pleads with his viewers to avoid spoiling the show for others. He must have a pretty impressive plea, because the web is chock full of Svengali reviews that say something to the effect of “Svengali is the most amazing show ever, but I can’t tell you anything about it because that would ruin it.” So far, people have largely been able to resist my plea for spoilers.
The show is, reportedly, between two and a half and three hours long. Derren Brown is still early in his Svengali tour (which runs through 2012), so he is working out the kinks, as he explained on a recent blog post. Future, streamlined shows are likely to be shorter than three hours. People who have seen it say Svengali is not as good as Derren’s prior stage shows, but is still quite good.
Those are all the Svengali spoilers we have so far, but we can count on Derren Brown to release the show on dvd in a couple years, at which time we can all see the performance in its entirety.
For now, read Mind Stunts, my new biography of Derren Brown at Amazon.com.
AboutDerrenBrown.blogspot.com. My own blog about Derren Brown.
Derren Brown Blog, “Tour So Far,” downloaded from: http://derrenbrown.co.uk/blog/2011/03/tour-so-far/.
Flickr.com. Search for “Derren Brown Svengali.”