The Monkees’ ‘I’m a Believer’ is blaring out over the loudspeakers, there’s a big board on stage that says I HEART COX, and a bookcase full of random knick-knacks: Starbucks mugs (are they sponsoring him?), cuddly toys, books, a plant. Chris Cox bounces onto the stage and launches at breakneck speed into the shaggy dog story that loosely frames this show: he was in an art gallery and he met a beautiful girl who mysteriously disappeared and then later came round to dinner…
And while you’re being lulled by the story and deceived into thinking he’s some kind of geek who looks about twelve, he’s busy scanning the audience for his first victims of the night, who hilariously and coincidentally include one of his ex-teachers and an off-duty magician: you couldn’t make it up. Not wanting to give the details of his act away too much, there follow a series of mind-bending routines involving his apparent ability to reproduce pictures he can’t see being drawn, to know the contents of sealed envelopes, and to be able to tell you exactly what’s on any page of a random publication.
The clue is in the title – whilst distracting you with his nerdiness, Cox slips on the invisibility cloak that he nicked off Harry Potter (for they surely studied together at Hogwarts) and does sneaky stuff that you are too unwitting or unwilling to see. Logically he must have a Little Helper on the Other Side, although it’s impossible to perceive any such goings-on with the naked eye. Cox is so charming and disarming that in no time your disbelief is suspended and you are gasping in wonder at the deftness and elegance of his routines. Before you know it, you too will be wearing an I HEART COX badge… but how did it get on your lapel?
This lad has masses of drive and old fashioned limpid-eyed boy-next-door charm, he is totally focused on what he’s doing and he’s obviously going to go far. In fact, to quote my daughter who was at the same secondary school as him, way back in Year 9: ‘Muuum, there ’s a boy in my year called Chris Cox and he’s going to take over the world.’ (Rina Vergano)