September 18, 2009 Chris Cox

Festbuzz: Mind Over Patter Review

In 140 characters or less: “Chris Cox has plenty up his sleeves in this confident & rather sweet magic show. Mind reading, technological trickery & good laughs abound.”

Chris Cox is a slight, geeky looking boy who is so sincere when he admits to spending much of his youth in his bedroom with a Paul Daniels’ magic set that it’s almost impossible to doubt him. However, he’s remarkably at home on stage and the audience instantly warm to him. It seems his reputation as a regular Radio 1 guest goes before him, though it’s not immediately obvious how magic can work on radio, the least visual of mediums.

Cox’s main “trick” is mind-reading, though he repeatedly makes the disclaimer that he can’t read minds. Derren Brown is an obviosu comparison, though the truth is that Brown’s patter about psychology etc. is as much a part of his distraction techniques as his jokes, so I’m on my guard already as Cox starts referencing psychologists and sociologists like Stanley Milgram.

Watching a magician with a critical eye is much like watching a comedian in the same manner: you’re waiting to see which way they are directing you in order to work out where the surprise/punchline/magic will actually be. And like watching a comedian, this critical appraisal can ruin the humour by taking the fun out of it. However, it’s good fun trying to work out how Cox’s tricks work as he seemingly bumbles through them. There’s lots of distraction elements, some good jokes, audience participation, lots of puns on the magician’s surname and some creative set-ups. By using Facebook, iTunes and his laptop Cox presents a very modern interpretation of the ancient arcane arts.

I confess, however, that I had a pretty good idea how Chris did every single one of his tricks and I do think some of the earlier stunts in the show needed a little more work on timing so the cracks in their facade aren’t quite so apparent. However, most of the patter was slick, and his charisma carried the audience along nicely. He deserved the gasps of awe he got, though he also deserved a few groans for some of the puns. A great night out!

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