Review – Derren Brown’s Enigma, Adelphi Theatre

Monday 22 June 2009


The Whingers have been very quiet indeed since last Tuesday. For the last seven days the only sounds you might have heard from them would have been the whirring and clunking of their addled brains as they puzzled and worried and plotted to explain the tricks behind Derren Brown’s quite extraordinary Enigma now showing at the Adelphi Theatre.

It may not surprise you to learn that their combined intellectual and analytical efforts has resulted in nothing. Nada. Not a sausage. We are as mystified today as we were when we emerged blinking into The Strand a week ago. It is, indeed, an enigma.

As is the issue of how to even describe the events the Whingers witnessed. For as Mister Brown closed the show he pleaded with reviewers not to spoil the show by revealing what happens.

Normally this would be water off a duck’s back but the Whingers are demonstrating a curious and uncharacteristic obedience to the artist which only adds to the spookiness of it all.

What we can reveal is that has a relatively late start at 8pm, that at two and three quarter hours it’s a long show and that we could have happily lapped up  another hour of it as we loved every mind-bending minute.

All right, so its a fairly trivial exercise to play with the insides of the Whingers’ heads but Mister Brown did it and if the Whingers have had a more enjoyable experience in the theatre in recent memory their well-boggled minds can’t recall it.

The Whingers (still aching to make their on-stage West End debut) were desperate to be selected for one of stunts. But sadly they were reminded of their schooldays when the games captains chose their team members and the Whingers would only be picked when the dregs were left, and then only reluctantly. Although one of the Whingers’ party was chosen for the very first trick it must have been a too-close association with the Whingers which rendered him insensible to the obviously too complicated instructions (“take a piece of paper out of a box”) and Brown moved swiftly on to someone else and thereafter well away from the Whingers’ entourage. Wise move, we knew he was bright.

Even the mass “hypnosis” of the audience didn’t work on the Whingers and they remained seated despite the instructions from Brown to stand up (If the audience had been full of Broadway theatregoers presumably they’d have all been on their feet as soon as he made his entrance which would have confused him) but while most shows in the West End are likely to send them into a trance-like state their one chance to enjoy a legitimate sleep in the theatre left them as close to conscious as you’ll ever find them.

The Whingers were certainly alert enough to find Brown even more charismatic, charming and funnier than on TV, and given the amount of audience participation and its possibilities for things to go wrong he worked his crowd and volunteers quite brilliantly.

But although the standing ovation at the end of his show was thoroughly deserved, was it real or were the audience just obeying orders from their earlier instructions? Ah ha!

Did the Whingers mention how much they enjoyed it? Perhaps The Whingers were hypnotised after all. Perhaps they are suggestible and Derren Brown put even stranger thoughts in their heads than were already there? Did he make them gush over his show? And what other strange involunatry responses will they now display?

Will the Whingers now rush to the bar every time they hear the words “Time gentleman please? Will Phil walk straight out of a theatre every time he hears the word complicit? Will Andrew find himself suddenly indisposed every time he hears the word “Garrett”? Business as usual then.

Enigma is directed by Andy Nyman and runs until 18 July 2009. See it and re-discover the joy of being genuinely entertained in a theatre.


One Response to “Review – Derren Brown’s Enigma, Adelphi Theatre”

  1. fevvers Says:

    This, ironically, is one of the least cynical of all the London reviews for this show. Well done you!

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