How to explain Chris Cox to someone who’s never seen his act? Probably the best way to sum him up is to say that he’s a mentalist in the Derren Brown mould – ever insistent that he’s not using magic or psychic powers, but various methods of suggestion, body language and the like. For those who find Brown a bit full of himself, a little pompous maybe, Chris Cox’s endearingly self-effacing style should be a breath of fresh air.
For his latest Edinburgh show, Cox crafts a story of love found, and lost, raising the prospect of being one “what if?” away from a completely different life. It’s an engaging method of introducing the concept of coincidence, around which Cox frames a number of spectacles where the impossible takes shape in front of the audience’s eyes. From a couple in the audience describing a imaginary girl whilst, behind them, a photo of the exact girl is projected in full view of the audience, to Cox’s ability to mirror the drawings of other audience members while they are drawing them – Cox is adamant that he is no mind reader, but the abilities he demonstrates defy any other description.
I know a few of the techniques that performers like Cox use to achieve some of their tricks – but whenever you think you have a handle on what he is doing, he adds another layer that confounds even more.
When I first saw Chris Cox several years ago, he was a gifted but fallible mentalist whose relaxed style encouraged you to overlook any rough edges to his act. Now, those edges may not quite be gone, but there’s a sense that they are much more a deliberate part of the act – and it’s an act that’s very worth catching.