[2011015] Ali Cook – Pieces of Strange

Ali Cook – Pieces of Strange [FringeTIX]

Ali Cook @ The Deluxe

9:45pm, Sun 13 Feb 2011

Ali Cook is a likeable chap; he seems friendly and struts the stage with just enough preening self-awareness to appear in complete control of proceedings. He’s an engaging stage presence, inoffensive to the many volunteers he grabs from the sizeable crowd.

Unfortunately, he’s not a very convincing magician.

I knew we were in for a rocky ride when, early on, he used the same Princess Di joke and invisible card-shuffling trick that I’d seen Tony Roberts perform the previous evening; sure, the latter was dressed up with a flash of flame, a dash of Vegas flair; but Roberts had delivered both aspects more convincingly.

Sure, Cook delivered some neat tricks – the eleven-digit-number embossed on the credit card was pretty neat (although accompanied by a suspicious “can you just do that again? I forgot which envelope you chose” return to an audience member), and the dove-centric opening was pretty slick… but other parts of his act looked decidedly clunky and unpolished. From my angle – maybe seven o’clock to the stage’s twelve o’clock – his water mixing trick looked really ordinary. No, make that bad – it was possible to see him clearly manipulating items in the bowl. It’s pretty hard to suspend disbelief when you see that level of physical manipulation.

Then there was the odd audience-involved trick or two that genuinely seemed to fail – but the trick was tossed away airily, covered up with a glib joke.

And that’s Ali Cook’s saving grave (if, indeed, he has one) – he’s a reasonably funny guy. The thing is, he’d probably be a better comedian than a magician… but I wouldn’t pay to see his standup show. Make of that what you will.

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