Tuesday, 2 October 2012

TV: Derren Brown - Svengali

Svengali features Derren at his predictably unpredictable best!

Derren Brown's Svengali.
Derren Brown’s most recent stage tour*, Svengali, was named after an early automaton (or robot-like doll) built in 1760 by a Hungarian called Hugo Von Levascht who modelled the doll in the likeness of his own dead son.

* At the time of writing.

When the doll originally performed, people at the performances believed that the doll had possessed them, leaving many of them terrified.  This was a belief that Levascht himself encouraged and in fact people became so convinced by the powers of Levascht’s act that at one stage the Catholic church actually exorcised the Svengali doll.

As you can imagine this is just the type of back-story which would appeal to Derren Brown and so when an anonymous bidder bought the doll at an auction a few years ago it should come as no surprise to work out who that mystery bidder might have been.

In case it needs spelled out any further, the Svengali doll and the legend behind it feature heavily in Derren Brown’s Svengali stage show recently shown on Channel 4.  The show follows a similar routine to Derren’s previous tours but just because you know the basic formula of what to expect that doesn’t make it any less entertaining, and the way Derren can read people’s minds is just as mesmerising as always.  And despite the fact that we’re familiar with this type of performance, Derren still succeeds in coming up with unexpected twists that have you initially scratching your head in puzzlement at how Derren is possibly going to work this one out before suddenly it all makes sense and the conclusion is revealed.

The Svengali doll in action.
Derren’s day job is his TV shows and although I’m a big fan of his TV specials such as Trick Or Treat, The System and The Heist, something which doesn’t feature as prominently in his regular TV appearances is his sense of humour.  That’s something which his stage shows allow him to expertly demonstrate and Svengali is no different in that respect.  At times this sense of humour is a welcome inclusion as certain sections of Svengali are quite dark and tense and therefore the lighter moments balance out these serious moments to good effect.  For example one trick where a member of the audience is apparently possessed by the Svengali doll is quite edgy viewing (especially the finale involving needles) and so Derren has wisely followed it up with a light-hearted trick to give you a welcome chance to relax and laugh once again.

Derren is the master of presentation and Svengali typically delivers on that score.  As well as mixing dark moments with sections of light and occasionally crude humour, another device Derren uses to good effect is to convince the audience that a trick has gone wrong, only to then later reveal a hidden twist in the tail and you discover that he was actually in control of things the whole time and had the whole thing planned all along.  Other slick moments include a trick which combines Derren’s mind-reading abilities with his artistic talent, and although the psychic factor is presumably secondary to the trick (he probably knows what the audience member is going to say all along), the artistic aspect to the trick combined with Derren’s showmanship create an impressive moment when the twist to the trick is revealed.

To sum it up, Svengali uses Derren Brown’s usual mix of hypnotism, psychology, misdirection and trickery to excellent effect.  In all likelihood Channel 4 will no doubt give Svengali another airing on one of their channels at some point in the future, so for fans of Derren who missed it the first time my advice would be to make a note in your diary to catch Derren at his predictably unpredictable best.

Check out Derren Brown's official website:

Derren Brown is on twitter:

Worthy Of A Bigger Audience is also on twitter:

Find more TV recommendations at the following link:
TV on 'Worthy Of A Bigger Audience'

Other Recent Posts:
Website: Freerice.com
Comics: The Li'l Depressed Boy
Music: Pomme Fritz by The Orb
Travel: Koh Phi Phi, Andaman Coast, Thailand
TV: Breaking Bad

Please note, all promotional images used on this blog remain the copyright of the respective artists/publishers and are used in accordance with 'Fair Use' legislation for review purposes.

GreatArt card making

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...