DNA reached the live final of Britains Got Talent this year, having wowed the judges with their two-person telepathy act. This spurred them on to create a full evening show, which I believe was being performed for the first time in the West End. I was curious to see how they could take what was essentially the one effect they were known for and make it into a full show.
On their publicity DNA said:
“Having shown a snippet of what we can do on Britain’s Got Talent, we can’t wait to show our audience so much more. Our audience is the most important part of our show. We want everyone to leave having had a great time”
The one night only performance took place at The Leicester Square Theatre, a cabaret-style venue in the heart of Londons West End. Ticket prices ranged from around £35 up to £70 and I would estimate that the theatre was about 80% full. The venue was not ideal for a magic related show that required members of the audience to assist on stage due to the width of each row and the lack of a centre aisle. This meant there were some lengthy waits as people from the middle of the seating had to make their way to the end of the row, with everyone in between standing up to let them both out and then back in again later on. I found this slowed the pace of the show somewhat, although I realise it was beyond the control of DNA.
There was a slight problem with the start time which was advertised as being 7pm, which was also printed on the tickets, so having made sure I got there in plenty of time I was informed by the box office that the time had been pushed back to 7:30pm due to technical issues.
The show started with an effect they performed on BGT, namely going into the audience and inviting a spectator to scroll through their phone’s contact list and stopping wherever they wanted. Andrew, who was on stage, then wrote down the last three digits of their telephone number on a pad, which proved to be correct, and also correctly revealed the first name of that contact. This proved to be a slick start to the show.
A member of the audience was asked to write a word on a pad, and that sheet was given to the spectator and asked to hold on to it without letting anyone see it. This was to come into play later in the show.
Meanwhile, Andrew asked a spectator on stage to freely pick a card and place it on his palm, face down, where-upon Darren correctly named the card from the other side of the stage. They stated that even though it was possible to achieve this effect using slight of hand, they would not be using magical methods during the evening, suggesting that everything would be accomplished using mind power alone. I understand them wanting to give this impression to their audience, in the same way that Uri Geller denies using magic methods, my concern is that they used the word “trick” several times during the evening, which was very incongruous.
They then performed the baby gag and got given David Beckham as the celebrity. They followed this up by having a freely chosen celebrity written down, and named by Andrew on stage as David Essex.
Five men were brought onto stage and a £20 was taped to each person’s chest. They then each took a different coloured ball from a velvet bag without looking, turned with their backs to the audience, peeked at the colour and placed each ball into an individual smaller bag. Andrew collected all the bags once they had been mixed, and with the spectators still turned they were given a ball each by Darren into their hand, held behind their back. All the spectators then turned around and each, in turn, was asked to name the coloured ball they had chosen and showed that they had been correctly given the right ball.
Random members of the audience were then chosen using a beach ball that was thrown around the auditorium, and each was asked to give a letter which was written onto a flipchart giving 9 letters in total – BYMTUOSZE – they returned to these letters in the second half.
The book test that they performed on BGT followed next using a spectators own book. With Darren and Andrew either side of the audience, a spectator chose a page and a word on that page, with Darren writing down both on a pad ready to reveal. During the BGT live final, the page number was incorrect and had to be changed just prior to the reveal, and the same happened in the live show. Darren exclaimed that maybe they shouldn’t do this trick anymore. Andrew decided to repeat the effect and this time both the word and page number were correct. There seems to be an issue with this part of the show and I hope it can be resolved for their next performance as the effect on the audience is worth the effort.
For me the next effect was one that caught me off guard although from an audience point of view it may have been too similar to the finale of the show. A video taken a week before the show was played showing DNA signing a CD, putting it into a small money box, wrapping brown packing tape around it and signing the tape. This box was then hand-delivered to an ITV executive and he was asked to bring it to the show with him intact. His newspaper preference was noted as being The Daily Mirror. This box was then brought onto stage by a young lady from the audience who works for ITV, opened and the CD was played on a small portable CD player. Andrew had a copy of that day’s paper, and the recording spoke about headlines on specific pages. A camera was used to project the newspaper onto the screens to show the predictions were accurate. The CD was then given back to the young lady who took it away with her, and no doubt played the next day to other ITV staff.
The finale of the first act was very weak for me. DNA both took a pad and a pen and wrote something down on each. The word that had been written down in the audience on a sheet of paper was passed by the writer to a person nearby and they were asked to open the paper and read the word out loud. DNA turned their pads around and one pad showed the letters: SAU, with the letters SAGE on the other, showing the result “SAUSAGE” which matched exactly. I think the writing down of the word at the beginning of the show was lost on most of the audience as it was done at the back of the auditorium and no fuss was made of it at the time. For this to be a strong effect, the audience had to accept that the audience member didn’t share this information with anyone, or show the paper to anyone. It was all a bit lost for me, which is a shame as this is what the audience went into the interval talking about.
The second half opened with a candle in the middle of the stage and a picture of Houdini on the table. A voice was heard explaining that Halloween was the anniversary of Houdini’s death and a seance was held every year for 10 years by his widow Bess, without any contact. I was then expecting some sort of seance or mind demonstration connected with Houdini, but there was none.
The audience was asked to make a word in their mind using the letters on the flipchart, each letter once only, and several suggestions were written down below the letters. The audience, through applause, chose one of them, which turned out to be “BUMS” – This became part of the finale.
The BGT house number, wall colour and celebrity trick followed with a difficult audience member, who was receiving phone calls from his mate in the audience the whole time he was on stage. His face, however, during the reveal was exactly the reaction I am sure DNA were looking for.
Another five people were invited on stage, including a child fan, Findlay. They were given a number on a string from 1-5 to put around their necks and were asked to draw a picture on a pad. The pictures were then mixed and eventually, each picture was reunited correctly with the artist. The last drawing was not looked at and Andrew correctly wrote on a pad what it was before it was shown. The spectators were then asked to mix themselves up and the order written down on the flipchart – 4 5 3 2 1
There were a few ad-libs at this point and the audience went into panto mode shouting out “Oh no it isn’t” and “It’s behind you”. It’s difficult with such a serious subject matter to inject humour into the show, but you could see that both Andrew and Darren have comedy in their separate cabaret shows through their unscripted times. There must be a way to bring some more light-hearted moments into the show as Derren Brown does, to allow the audience to laugh and give some much-needed light and shade.
A page chosen from a selection of magazines was torn several times by a spectator on stage, and a word selected from the resulting piece, which matched the word written on the pad after the mind reading had taken place.
A Rubix Cube was introduced and mixed by an audience member, whilst Andrew was blindfolded. Darren handed the cube to Andrew after studying it for a few seconds and then proceeded to send Andrew, using only his mind, the moves needed to solve the cube. Once the cube was solved it was handed out to be mixed again behind the spectators back. Darren took another cube and did the same, and when the two cubes were shown side by side, every face matched exactly.
The finale was a drone video that had been shot at the seaside on the beach, and posted on DNA’s social media a week ago, showing DNA holding a pad with the name David Beckham written on it, the numbers 4 5 3 2 1 written in big number on the wooden background, and finished with an ariel shot looking at the sand which had the word “BUMS” scraped into it.
DNA took their bows showing their T-shirts had changed to the camouflage ones used on BGT from the plain black worn during the show. They then rushed off stage as the curtains closed, missing their standing ovation. The show finished at 9:22pm and had a 20-minute interval.
Throughout the whole show, there was the same music track playing in the background. The choice of music was a dramatic anthem style track, which invoked a sense of mystery. For me, this track sometimes made it difficult to hear the talking on stage, especially of assistants, who sometimes weren’t mic-ed, but more importantly gave each effect the same feel without any variation. I would have liked to have had some light and shade with appropriate music for the effect being performed, and sometimes just silence to direct attention to what was happening on stage.
All in all, this was a good show – the boys had worked hard on it, although at times it felt a little under-rehearsed. Credit must be given to Robert Pound, who was a very visible, often rushed, named stagehand, replacing spent props with new ones between most of the effects. He had members of the audience thanking him by name every time he appeared. I would like to have seen more care taken with prop management by both Andrew and Darren. They could read spectators and each other’s minds, but they didn’t have the forethought to know they would need a pen and pad during a routine until the moment arrived.
I wish the lads all the best for their future shows – with a few tweaks they have a unique show on their hands.
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