Chris Cook brings theatrical magic show to Cumbria following Fringe acclaim
CUMBRIAN performer Chris Cook has just completed his fourth run at the Edinburgh Fringe where his show was the best-reviewed magic show at the festival.
Control is his first attempt at a full theatrical performance, and has cemented his place among the UK's finest magicians and illusionists.
He brings the show to the Coronation Hall, in Ulverston, on Thursday September 21, one of only two UK dates outside the Scottish capital so far booked in, and he can't wait to share it with some of his local fans.
"This was my fourth time at the Fringe, and it was really well reviewed and had plenty of packed-out crowds," says Chris.
"A publication called World Magic Review gave me a five-star review and called it the best magic show at the Fringe, so obviously I'm pretty pleased about that.
"There's quite a lot of audience interaction, so it's different every night depending on what questions I ask the audience and what questions they ask me.
"It's very easy to make audiences laugh or clap, but it's incredibly difficult to make them think and to make them feel."
Originally from Kendal but now based in Edinburgh, Chris is regularly seen performing at weddings and functions across the Lake District, but he's rarely had the opportunity to showcase his extraordinary talents on stage in the county.
Having debuted his White Lies show at the Coronation Hall last summer, the Ulverston venue welcomed him back for a pre-Edinburgh performance of his other show, Concealed, in July. However, Control is set to take things to a whole new level.
He says: "I was doing two shows at the Fringe, but this one is the bigger, more theatrical show, and Concealed was more the close-up, comedy magic show.
"That's been the hardest thing about this show, working it into a narrative. A lot of magic shows are like a magazine, just a collection of tricks but no real theme or purpose.
"For a long time, I've wanted to craft a full story-telling show - one that would still be an entertaining show even if you took out all the magic."
The new show is built around Chris' harrowing account of losing control of his car at 80mph and how it seemed like the space between life and death was decided by little more than luck.
He wants to challenge the audience to face their fears head on, with only one aim; for everyone to leave the theatre better people than they came in.
"It's all about pushing people out of their comfort zone, and I think this show does that very well," says Chris.
"I've probably taken more inspiration from other theatre performances, and even comedians and music shows than from other magicians, and I'm really proud of it - it's definitely the best thing I've ever done.
"I feel it's much more honest and the message comes across a lot better. Most magic shows are all about lies and deception, but this is all very honest, and it's more stripped-back and I guess it shows my vulnerable side."
Earlier this year, Chris was named the Best Wedding Magician in the UK, and close-up magic has been his forte for more than a decade, since he learnt a few tricks to impress his friends, and the odd small-time scam.
However, Control is set to be a major turning point in his career, opening up some exciting opportunities at home and abroad.
"It's been hard to take shows on tour, but I'm hoping to do a lot more with this show," he says.
"I've got some shows booked in Vienna and Bratislava - my first proper, big European shows, and I'm hoping to take it to Australia as well.
"A lot of the stuff I do is for private bookings, but I'd like to do a bit more in Cumbria. The Coro has been great, and this time I'll be doing it on the main stage instead of down in front of it, so it'll be the biggest one yet."