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Ali Cook: Principles and Deceptions

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Ali Cook has some pretty spectacular tricks, but he wears them very lightly, letting the deception speak for itself, rather than surrounding it in Vegas-style glitz. Even when he opens the show as The Enchanter, a supposedly cheesy cruise ship entertainer for two quick tricks – a levitation and making his assistant appear from inside a fiery cage – the presentation is relatively unfussed… rather begging the question why he needs this alter ego at all.Cook has taken his title from a 1948 book by his magician hero Arthur Buckley, and says he aims to include a trick from every style of magic – and while that’s not technically defined, he has taken great pains to produce a varied line-up, from the close-up magic of coins moving around the table (projected via overhead camera on to a big screen) to an impressive teleportation, making a woman’s shoe appear in a box suspended from the ceiling.There’s a spooky trick in which one person feels the sensations of another that the non-sceptical could ascribe to ESP, while the obligatory card trick is one known as the trick that fooled Houdini – and if the great conjurer himself couldn’t figure it out, you sure as hell won’t be able to. I found the trick with the love letters a bit easier to suss (I think!) but it was the only one when I even had an inkling, and even then he followed it up with a much more brain-scratching payoff.It’s all done with an everyman charm; and this year Cook has played down the comedy – probably wisely, as it was never his strong suit – yet remains witty and affable throughout. He might have an old-fashioned craft, but Cook has a modern, pared-down approach to it.His finale’s awe-inspiring, too. He puts his assistant into a box and starts running solid poles through it. So far, so predictable – but then he pulls of a truly remarkable coup de theatre that brings the solidly entertaining show to a suitably impressive climax.

Review date: 22 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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