“...an evening of delightful moments and reimagined magic

‘Unbelievable’ is a production that has its moments of charm and magic, making it a fun evening out, particularly for families with children of secondary school age. The collaboration with the Mercury Theatre Colchester certainly adds a touch of theatrics, complete with songs and a band that spices things up with the knee-bend dance, and some gorgeous scenery.

Derren Brown's involvement as a writer and director, alongside Andy Nyman and Andrew O'Connor, lends a creative edge to the show. I must stress he doesn't perform on stage and on some marketing material this could be a little misleading.

One of the highlights of the production is the introduction of newly revived tricks, like the cleverly crafted opening number that plays with perspectives and live cameras. The rendition of the cup and ball trick, with the cup song twist, also adds a fresh lease of life to the classic.

Audience participation is a key element here, with some attendees being selected more than once. While these raised suspicions of planted participants, it seems that most tricks genuinely involved audience members, with a dash of 'magic' to keep the illusion alive.

One downside is that many of the magic tricks, though beautifully reimagined, might be too familiar to magic enthusiasts or people with curious minds. As the show progresses, it occasionally loses sight of its intended audience. An example is a naive routine involving a balloon and a young child from the audience (the only one in on this night). Unfortunately, the strings used in this act were not discreetly concealed, which became even more evident in the following scene.

Given the theme and tag line of reimagining old tricks, it would have been refreshing either to witness more astounding twists on the classics or to cater to the younger smartphone-savvy generation, who might not be privy to the secrets behind these classic illusions.

The tricks we saw would have been amazing in a theatrical show, however for a magic show I had hoped for more.

In summary, "Unbelievable" offers an evening of delightful moments and reimagined magic. While it may not be the most mind-blowing show you'll see, it does manage to capture a certain charm and appeal, especially for families with older children looking for a fun night out.

This show was reviewed on the 26th September 2023.  Unbelievable runs at the Criterion Theatre, London until the 7th April 2024.  Tickets available here: Book Tickets | Derren Brown Unbelievable (unbelievablelive.com)

Review written by Valentine Gale-Sides


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