Ali Cook: Principles of Deception, The Mill, Banbury, September 29
Ali Cook’s new tour, Principles Of Deception, has a simple mission: to give audiences wonders and illusions they have never seen before. “Steve Martin said that comedy isn’t always pretty, and I think that should also be true of magic,” says Ali. “Sometimes with magic it’s good to scare people or shock them, whether it’s through an escape from a water-tank or from fire. For me, it’s about showing things that people haven’t done for a long time. Most magicians will see David Blaine and copy him whereas I try to go ‘well, that’s what he’s doing so I’ll do the total opposite’.” The sleight-of-hand king will be known to TV viewers from appearances on programmes such as Dirty Tricks, Monkey Magic or CBBC show, The Slammer, where he performed Harry Houdini’s water-tank escape trick to some astonished children. But for Ali there is nothing that can quite match the thrill of a live performance. He said: “When you see something on TV like a girl getting in a box that is then crushed and she disappears before reappearing, you think, ‘well, yeah’. But live, it’s just amazing.”
A Pure Woman, The Theatre, Chipping Norton, October 4
Thomas Hardy, 84, has fallen in love with a woman in her 20s, the star of a local production of his Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Hardy’s second wife, Florence, is driven into a jealous rage. Adapted from Christopher Nicholson’s novel, Winter, and based on true events, this portrait of a love triangle and a marriage at breaking point is dramatised by Private Peaceful screenwriter Simon Reade.
Moscow Drug Club. The Mill, Banbury, September 28
Moscow Drug Club inhabits a curious and wonderful musical place where 1930s’ Berlin Cabaret, Hot Club de France, Nuevo Tango and Gypsy Campfire meet, and where Django Reinhardt and Tom Waits are having an after-hours jam with local Tziganes. Combining their original material with songs by the likes of Jacques Brel, Leonard Cohen and Bertolt Brecht, they promise an intoxicating and intimate musical experience.
Tom Allen, Oxford Playhouse, September 30
A man who has supported Sarah Millican around the world, won the prestigious So You Think You’re Funny Award and has been favourably compared to Eddie Izzard, Victoria Wood and Oscar Wilde, Tom Allen is described as one of the most erudite acts in British comedy.
Ventoux, The Mill, Banbury, October 4
In 2000, two giants of cycling climbed Mont Ventoux in a dramatic battle to win stage 12 of the Tour de France: Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani. Performed with two road bikes, real race commentary and film footage captured by the company as they cycled up Mont Ventoux, 2Magpies Theatre recreates the 60- minute conflict with all the benefit of hindsight, charting the stark split in fortunes following the race.