Venue – Fatal Distraction Review (Autumn 2012)

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)

The Bristol Post – Fatal Distraction Review

An absolutely astonishing talent.

THE pages of The Post may not have featured so prominently on stage in a show in Bristol since Ricky Gervais read out a bad review at the Colston Hall, critiquing my colleague Steve Harnell’s words line by line.

Going line by line through The Post is also something that Chris Cox must have done sometime on Monday, then distributed pages of the newspaper among his audience at the Tobacco Factory Theatre that night, asking them to name a page and then saying which stories were on that page, even going as far to recall a particular crossword clue.

Born in Bristol and living in the city until he finished university, Cox’s shows have previously been described by Gervais himself as “brilliant, he’ll blow your mind”.

It was not just a copy of this very newspaper you are holding in your hands right now (the trick wouldn’t work so well on a computer screen), but also the pages from an old Edinburgh Festival programme that he once again had completely memorised, correctly being able to name one of the 2,000 or so shows from the page number given to him, and if that wasn’t enough also saying both the venue and start time.

The astonishing thing about this astonishing show was that astonishingly this was not even its most astonishing element, but unfortunately it will ruin the astonishment of future audiences if I reveal any more of the secrets of Cox.

Currently in development for his own television series in Los Angeles, this was the first homecoming appearance for his current show, which he has taken around the world. It is called Fatal Distraction for good reason, but thankfully there were no mysterious deaths reported in Southville on Monday night.

Cox calls himself “the mind reader who can’t read minds”, although this is doing somewhat of a disservice to a young man still in his early 20s who has become an Edinburgh regular and wowed global audiences.

Combining chit chat, magic, psychology, body language, influencing and lying, this was an absolutely astonishing show from a young man with a very bright future.

Derren Brown better watch his back. Chris Cox should soon be filling many column inches of newspapers up and down the land, probably memorising every word.

Bristol Culture – Fatal Distraction Review

In Bristol, you can’t throw a small ferret dressed in a woolly jumper the kind that James from The Great British Bake-Off would wear without it landing in the lap of a former teacher sitting in the third row. Not in the Tobacco Factory Theatre at least, especially not on a rainy Monday evening in September.

Born in Bristol and living in the city until he finished university, Cox (right) calls himself “the mind reader who can’t read minds”, but this is doing a huge disservice to a young man still in his early 20s who has become an Edinburgh Festival regular and wowed global audiences.

It’s a shame that last night was his only show in Bristol, because it was absolutely superb, in the vein of Derren Brown combining magic, psychology, body language, influencing and downright lying.

It also involved the best feats of memory I have ever seen.

Cox memorised both yesterday’s Post (“Who stole the Evening?” he asked incredulously) and an Edinburgh programme from several years ago, being able to name crossword clues from the newspaper and read out Richard Branson’s credit card number from an advert when told the page an audience member was holding.

This was an astonishing show, with its very nature meaning that much of its content cannot be revealed. On this form, however, the manic and freakishly talented Cox will not be throwing ferrets into former teachers’ laps for much longer. At least not on a rainy Monday in September.

Spoonfed – Fatal Distraction Review

It isn’t often that you get to see Jonathan Ross running across a stage carrying a magician on his shoulders, but that was just one of the delights in store during Chris Cox’s show Fatal Distraction. Cox professes himself to be “a mind reader who can’t read minds” – but after an outstanding performance tonight, he leaves the majority of the audience wondering how he did the exact thing he claimed he could not.

It’s an achievement in itself to fill the Southbank’s giant inflatable cow when the football’s on, and with self-deprecating humour and boundless nervous energy, Cox instantly wins over the audience, working his magic on us all. During a clever hour-long set, he utilises slick video media and visual effects, encouraging audience members (including Jonathan Ross himself) to visualize tasks for him to guess and act out, such as a chicken dance, and drawing bunny rabbits.

While he discusses his prowess (or lack thereof) with the fairer sex, Fatal Distraction focuses predominantly on Cox’s last doomed relationship, as he invites audience members to read his own mind and guess the characteristics of the lady in question. While most comedy audiences wince and cower at the prospect of being dragged onstage, Cox’s welcoming nature enables him to coax the required information and assistance from his participants, who each receive an ‘I Heart Cox’ badge for their efforts. It is these entertaining audience games that make the show such a success (and it’s the only place you will get to see a toy ferret thrown into the audience as a means of picking out volunteers).

At Cox’s request, I don’t want to delve too much into the workings of Fatal Distraction for fear of spoiling it; the mystique of his show being the central attraction. Suffice it to say, I have no idea how on earth he does it, and believe me – you won’t either.

By Eliza Power.

Theatre Thoughts – Fatal Distraction Review

Chris Cox bills himself as “The Mind Reader That Can’t Read Minds” – it’s LIES, LIES, LIES, I tell you, YES HE CAN. How he accomplishes such feats is his own closely guarded secret but as the evening progresses the revelations come thick and fast and it seems that no thought is safe from him.

He’s respectfully asked that reviewers don’t spoil the show by giving away what happens and I’ll honour that, partly because I’m a decent chap and all that, but primarily because I want you to all go and see this show when it’s on near you. (if it’s not on near you, get in a car, taxi, plane, train, tandem, whatever and get to it) YES IT’S SUPERB.

I was pleased to finally make my inaugural visit to the UdderBelly at the Southbank, I’ve seen it there the last few years for the Southbank Festival and repeatedly thought “I must get to see something there”, well, I finally have.

Mind-reading / Mentalist acts can suffer from being far too dark, far to repetitive and far too boring usually. There’s not any of that in this show. His pacing is superb, the whole evening has a joyousness that I’ve not experienced in a magic/mentalism act before.

His self depreciating humour, and amazing effects would this worthwhile seeing. What makes it into my MUST SEE list, is how he’s compiled a complete package, he frames his evening around a touching premise that gives it a logical and dramatical trajectory most acts fail to achieve. Fatal Distraction is not so much an “act” more a complete 1 act play. We are taken on a journey with Chris and it’s a joy from beginning to the mind-boggling ending.

Chris is also extremely personable, treating his audience with respect and bantering along with us. He knows that the success of this show is on our interaction with him and vice versa and as he buoyantly moves amongst us, he makes the audience just as much part of the show as him. I’ve seen countless performers fail to get interaction from their audience, not so with Chris, people were clambering to get the jumper wearing ferret (it’s toy I hasten to add) that he has thrown about the theatre to locate his willing volunteers. Every volunteer is given their own badge, mine was placed immediately on my jacket, style guru that I am.

It’s the freshest, funniest and best mind reading show I’ve seen (and I’ve seen loads) . If you fancy a totally different night out at the theatre where you will be amazed, intrigued, involved and just smile and laugh from start to finish, catch this while it’s on tour. I’m going to catch it again and take some friends as soon as I can. He’s one of the best live entertainers I’ve seen.

STARS : * * * * *