Theatre-goers including Glenn Close and Russell Brand were left horrified when what was first thought to be an elaborate stunt at illusionist Derren Brown's live show turned out to be a near-fatal accident after a fan fell from a balcony.

The man toppled from the top-tier seating area at London's Palace Theatre on Saturday (03Aug13) after his wife pushed him as a joke, and he fell 15 feet (4.6 metres) before hitting a lighting rig and clinging on.

Quick-thinking audience members rushed to help the man by dragging him back over the railings, but other onlookers were mistakenly convinced the incident was all part of Brown's hit West End show Infamous.

Brown subsequently took to his account to tell fans what happened, writing, "Tonight a woman pushed her hubby (sic) as a joke from the front of the balcony. He fell and caught the upper circle on the way down, and was hanging from it. He's fine, but what a finale. Sending best thoughts to him & wife, terrifying."

He later told Britain's The Sun, "It's terrifying but I understand he got away with a scrape. There are big dents in our lighting rig."