Chris Cox claims to be a man who can’t do what he does indeed do. He can’t, apparently, read minds, plant thoughts in others’ heads or lead a roomful of people to divulge information he did not already predict – if he could do all that, this evening would be impressive, but because he can’t and it still happens its sublime. Evenings based on mind tricks can often tend towards the laborious, but this gem at the Pleasance King Dome could not be better. Cox has real stage presence and slips from friendly master of ceremonies to heartbroken story teller effortlessly, and his concoction of tricks from the basic magic through to some really quite staggering displays of mental manipulation are fabulous. The random toss of a soft toy determines volunteers, and those people often choose the next, so any whispers of “plants” are soon hushed.Its a slick and mind boggling evening of entertainment with some staggering showmanship and some ludicrously exciting moments, Chris Cox is a very talented man, but I would warn anyone – never engage him in a game of Pictionary. ‘I Love Cox’ his complimentary badges profess, and after seeing his show, I entirely agree with their sentiment!
Chris Cox is quite upfront about the fact that he can’t read minds. In fact, he bills himself as the mind reader who can’t actually perform. If that’s true however, then how come I’m sat here repeating “How on earth did he do that?” to myself?A slightly awkward prescence on stage, Cox somehow manages to hold our attention throughout. There’s a magnetism about him as a performer and he practically pulsates with energy. He’s a showman, but he needs no top hat, tails and flourish to embellish his act; he does just fine in double demin and Converse.I won’t give anything away, but suffice to say he gets everything totally spot on. As one of those who had their mind ‘not read’ I can vouch for his authenticity. And I genuinely don’t know how he did it. A lot of his act defies logic, but some of it defies any sort of explanation whatsoever.The measure of this show is how many people have recommended it to me in passing. Even the best shows always divide opinion, because of course different people enjoy different things. But the sheer force of talent and mindblowingly original takes on your run-of-the-mill act mean it’s impossible not to fall under Cox’s spell. The show’s most impressive part is Cox’s take on the ‘oracle’ act, where carried out acts that have been written on cards by the audience before the show and placed into a bowl – and never touched by him. Not once. As he appears to literally pluck thoughts out of the air I can’t help but feel slightly awed. If he really can’t read our minds, then how on earth does he do it? It’s official: I love Cox.
After 2009?s Fringe success, the ‘mindreader who can’t read minds’ is back with another hour of inexplicable mental feats and self-effacing comedy.In Fatal Distraction, Chris Cox tells the story of a failed romantic relationship – a story full of blank details, like his ex-paramour’s name, profession and favourite kind of food. In between routines where he replicates what volunteers from the audience have drawn on an out-of-sight flipchart – and an impressive segment where he appears to have memorised the Fringe programme in its entirety – Chris gets the audience to fill in the missing parts of the lovelorn tale.All this leads up to a conclusion which baffles and ensures that the attention is firmly held throughout this highly entertaining performance.With his lovable geek stage manner and gentle audience fun-poking, Cox is an easy performer to like. Mocking himself as much as anyone, his humour hits the mark – but it is the mastery and mystery of his mentalism feats which impress the most – if this is a man who can’t read minds, then he does a mighty fine job of convincing otherwise.
THE EDINBURGH Fringe, now in its 64th year, seems immune to the recession, good sense and even the weather. Never mind that it always seems to rain in August in this most majestic and stately of cities, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger (not to mention wetter and wetter).Paul Daniels (3 stars), who once upon a time headlined in the West End, also turned up on the fringe this year (Assembly), appearing in a tiny university lecture theatre for close-up magic but though his patter is engagingly old-fashioned so is his limited repertoire of tricks.Far more genuinely baffling is Chris Cox (4 stars) who bills himself as a mind-reader who can't read minds but then proceeds to do a very impressive job of doing just that.Mark Shenton
Chris Cox has a self deprecating manner that attempts to lull the audience into the misguided and totally wrong belief he doesn’t really know what he is doing. To underestimate his capabilities is a big mistake as his charming and innocent demeanour belies his talent and abilities to manipulate. Claiming that he is a mind reader who can’t actually read minds is a great way to discredit yourself before you actually do anything. One of the great things about this show is that he leads you to believe that he is going to fail in his objectives although the audience is willing him to succeed. When he does pull through despite all the shambling uncertainty the relief in the room is palpable.From the outset Cox’s skills are apparent. His first trick involves outguessing what three audience members are going to come up with after, during and before they have put pen to paper. It is an extremely clever and persuasive trick as from this moment on his capabilities are no longer in question. Further guessing games are then engendered and there is a narrative thread involving a failed romance that runs through each unfolding feat. A memory trick involving audience members shouting out random pages of the Fringe programme whilst Cox uses his memory to recall what exactly is on said pages is highly impressive. It may have been more impressive if I hadn’t attended Barry and Stuart’s ‘Show’ part of their latest show wherein they reveal how this type of trick is performed so therefore it is no longer a mystery to me. It is still an impressive feat and he is tackling the Fringe magazine which has over 300 pages. This is minor quibbling however as his last feat is to draw his whole show to a cohesive conclusion which he does in a very adept manner.Cox asked his audience not to reveal too much about his show and it would be unfair to reveal most of the content. It is however safe to say that it is a great act that is certainly worth catching. I saw his show two years ago and am pleased to announce he has lost none of his charm but somehow has managed to hone his stagecraft into something even more professional. After shows end he hands out badges to every audience member which means that each one can walk around with ‘I Love Cox’ emblazoned on their front. There’s no arguing with that really!David Marren