Derren Brown at The Mayflower, Southampton

Pupils stun crowds at capital fundraiser

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This is going to be vague, I’m afraid... It’s a deal I made with Derren, see.

He’d entertain me for two-and-a-half hours if I promised not to reveal the secrets of the show.

So here goes. Well, it’s called Svengali and takes the theme of a 17th century automaton that could read people’s minds.

While that’s a recurring theme, what you actually get is the usual mix of big tricks and bonkers how-did-he-do-that ‘mind-reading’.

From guessing people’s embarrassing secrets, to naming deceased relatives, as usual he’s got it bang on.

The main difference from his telly stuff is more swearing and more smut. For me, what he does best is the straight one-on-one tricks.

We know he’s not a magician – he’s told us enough times – but it is truly amazing.

And while there were just about enough ‘wows’ to sustain the 2,499-strong audience (a number that featured in the show more than once), I’ve seen Derren before and I have to say, that show was better.

Yes, this ticked all the boxes (parlour games, mind-reading, stunts, pretend failure followed by success). But it seemed to lack a little discipline – most obvious on the last trick, which stretched over 20 minutes and saw him heckled (good-naturedly) as he clambered round the stage.

Did I enjoy it? Yes. But it just left me feeling something was missing.