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Ali Cook - “Principles Of Deception” Show Review

I remembered watching Ali Cook on Penn & Teller years ago. Though a big name in magic, opportunities to see him perform live in the UK do not occur very often. He is also a comedian and actor appearing on tv and film.

This was a chance to see Ali perform at the Royal and Derngate theatre in Northampton on either the Friday 5th or Saturday the 6th of July 2024. I opted for the Saturday as more practical journey wise.

I bought my ticket early this year and I was able to get a good seat at the front and had an amazing view. A nice large spacious theatre which is currently undergoing some building work. The theatre experience is not affected though.

The very elaborate and amazing theatre safety curtain

The show is based on Ali being given a copy of the 1948 book THE PRINCIPLES OF DECEPTION as a child. The first book to describe every type of magic, with Ali then taking you on a journey from his childhood to the present day and performing examples of each type of magic featured in the book. A lot to fit in with effects that will demonstrate everything feom levitation, substitution, penetration, extrasenaory perception and more. Ali then using props of all varieties from cards through to big stage illusions to demonstrate.

The show is written by Ali Cook and comedian Dave Gorman. An ideal partnership as Ali is a comedy magician. These current shows are intended to be preshows prior to a West End debut.

An unexpected bonus was that the show had attracted a lot of magicians in the audience. Jay and Joss for starters and was lovely to catch up with them. I also understand many more magicians attended Friday as well which included David Penn and John Constantine. Certainly an audience that appreciates magic.

Catching up with BGT magicians “Jay and Joss”

The shows first act was just under one hour, showcasing a wide variety of close up, illusions and stage magic. Ali opened with a small stand up set and explained the principle of the show. The second act is in the region of 45 minutes, nearly two hours of magic for a very reasonable ticket cost.

The set is amazing with an industrial feel comprising corrugated metal, piping, windows, scaffolding and many props. Sound and lighting is also effectively used in this very well staged show. The production values were high and performance was well rehearsed. An ambitious show with a a lot of content. professionally presented.

As always my reviews have to be spoiler free so I will not detail the exact effects performed, but what I can say is that some of the larger scale illusions are known to have been performed by Houdini and Copperfield and many more.

The show was very interactive and very funny with lots of audience participation. I even had a very brief moment helping Ali pass some envelops/bills onward to other audience members. Humour is injected throughout the show and the packed audience reacted positively to this show.

Speaking to others after the show, all had enjoyed and one chap explained to me that his mind was blown after never having seen magic performed live before. Even for me, having seen a lot of magic, I came out buzzing. A show that had allowed me to escape from reality for a couple of hours.

Despite this being a smaller theatre of around 400 capacity, lots of stage illusions were packed backstage to entertain. I could be tempted to book again to see this show once it in the West End.

The show as you would expect is supported by dancers/assistants who are are all excellent and also funny. They also entertain pre show to introduce themselves and then perform a number of dance routines throughout the show. Excellent dancing and choreography interspersed with assisting Ali. Thank you BirdGang performers.

Street dance collective BirdGang Ltd

Ali is of course entertaining and his experience as a magician is second to none. An absolute pleasure to see this world class magician perform and present this amazing show.

He keeps the show pace very fast and you get your money’s worth. Some effects are quick to support a laugh or gag that he performs and others are more big box centre pieces.

As the show continues to work through all types of magic, we even get to see some geek magic which was humorous! The performance being like a selection box covering all varieties, styles and principles of magic.

Ali Cook performing in front of a mirror

The finale is full on with many amazing big stage illusions performed one after the other. A mind blowing end of show where you keep questioning “How was that done?”

If you missed these two shows this weekend, keep an eye out for further announcements about its west end debut.

My long wait to get to see Ali finally perform live was well worth it. Do go and see this show as you will have a great time.

Thank you to Ali and all the team responsible for creating this excellent show.

1 comment

1 Comment

Jul 08

Great review Martin, so thorough & well-crafted review. I was there too (the day before) as you noted & I certainly couldn't have done better, just (much) worse! Thanks & you've helped revive some memories that might have begun to fade & have encouraged others to attend. 10/10 for your review!

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