Chris Cook regularly tests the boundaries of what can be defined as a magic show, and Consequences, his new and most meta show, is no exception. It is less of a “magic” show and more of an exploration of how magic shows, or at least Cook’s shows specifically, are made. There might be the initial fear that, due to this subject matter, Consequences risks becoming self-absorbed and bogged down in the individual problems of this one performer. Fortunately the other regular feature of Cook’s shows is his inspirational take on audience participation, at which he is almost uniquely effective—and in this Consequences is again no exception.
Those who have seen Cook previously might recognize many of the tricks used in Consequences as his dependable standbys. This makes sense in the context of the show. In a scene where he pretends to be performing at a children’s birthday party it makes sense to see him perform a card trick with an especially sweet ending. In a show with an overarching theme of struggling to come up with new ideas this recycling of tricks is simultaneously cleverly immersive and cheekily self-referential.
Cook’s magical abilities are superb. Perhaps in part because Consequences uses so many recycled tricks, Cook performs each one essentially flawlessly. This is particularly important in a show such as Consequences, as a less skilled magician complaining about the trials of successful show-writing might come across as bitter and resentful. Cook’s undeniable expertise bolsters Consequences’ implicit claims to genuine self reflection.
Many magic shows end with the magician revealing that they had predicted the audience’s behavior from the very beginning, turning the entire show into one big mentalist trick. The ending of Consequences is almost exactly the opposite. Cook attributes the success of his final magic trick to the power of a chosen audience member’s aspirations rather than his own skill, and his final “reveal” is nonsensically circular in a way that somehow still supports Cook’s ultimately inspirational message.
Consequences is an interestingly constructed and heartwarming magic show with a lot of character. Cook’s onstage persona might be seen to struggle with creating an inventive new show, but the effectiveness of Consequences is evidence in support of Cook’s imaginative talents.