Northern California - United States
Posted: Sep 24, 2002 5:43am
Spectator's Don't Exist by Jon Allen
When watching an instructional dvd or video, all too often we see ideas and/or effects presented that appear to be too wonderful in the controlled environment of a studio, but would no doubt be a death sentence in the real world.
Thankfully, this is not the case here.
Jon Allen is a working professional who does not deal in wishful thinking. Working the streets and pubs of England for many years has given Jon the experience and insight to not only understand why an effect works, but be able to perform and present them in the harsh reality of the real world.
That said, the six effects presented on this latest offering reflect Jon's philosophy and approach to performing for a real world audience. Jon has taken classic plots and applied some serious thought into their construction, adding variations in not only handling, but some innovative ideas in their presentation as well.
The tape Jon sent me consists of six effects/routines which follow the full performance format, with the explanations being given on the last half of the tape. Great if you ever want to show some laypeople the tricks themselves, without worry about secrets being told.
The performance portion of the video takes place on the streets and in the pubs in front of real people, where anything can happen. No studio audience here folks. As you would expect, the explanations are of course taped indoors.
If that were not enough, I really appreciated Jon's approach to the explanation portion of the tape. First he performs the effect again, as a sort of reminder to the viewer. Then he goes into the set-up, workings, presentation, etc. But then, just to drive it home, he performs the effect one last time. I really liked this a lot, as it kept the initial ideas very fresh in my mind, and helped connect all the pieces together as it were.
The packaging is very contemporary and was designed by Australia's Ben Harris, based on some ideas by Jon himself.
The video runs approx. 90 minutes, but seemed much less thanks to the wit and charm that seems to come natural for Jon. Hard to beat that British touch.
Here is a quick overview of the material itself:
Ghost: This is an animated bill routine that not only looks cool, but is really not that difficult to perform. The bill animates while resting inside a cocktail glass, even while a spectator is holding the glass themselves! Very cool.
Coins Across: A standard coins across using three Kennedy half dollars. What seperates this from most versions is Jon's unique way of involving the spectator on a very personal level. This is accomplished by flawless audience management as each coin is seen to travel from Jon's hand to the spectators. Not that difficult to do, and is worth your consideration.
The Rubber Band Trilogy: As suggested by the title, this is a three phase routine making for some fun magic with rubber bands. I especially enjoyed Jon's approach to the Crazy Man's Handcuffs which takes place using a rubber band strung between two spectators. Sweet.
Ambitious Card and The Destination Box: A two phase routine that not only plays very well, but clearly seems impossible from a spectators point of view.
Jon has some nice touches for sleights during the Ambitious portion, and The Destination Box proves to be a very clever prop with a lot of possibilities. Good stuff.
Thought of card to Envelope: This is my personal favorite from the video, and I will be using this to be sure.
The routine flows very nicely, and makes for great audience interaction. Not only that, but for you strolling magicians this provides a clever way to leave your calling card as well. I liked this a lot!
Freddy's Dead: Jon's handling of the classic Professor's Nightmare. This is my second favorite, as Jon applies some crafty moves to really sell this to the audience. The real kicker is seeing the ropes change lengths while the spectator holds them! Excellent.
The editing was nice and clean, and the picture quality was sharp. The sound was fine, and I really appreciated the nice index system Jon provides for quick access to various portions of the video, a plus when you're spoiled to dvd as I am.
I have only one small complaint, and some might call it nit-picking, but still it bothered me. During The Rubber Band Trilogy Jon provides sources for, but does not explain the Crazy Man's Handcuffs in detail. I realize most of us are familiar with the mechanics, but it would have been a nice touch to provide a quick explanation for any newbies. Also, though most would no doubt use a Mercury Fold, Jon does not go into great detail on the folding of the card during the Ambitious Card and The Destination Box sequences. Again, a small matter, but for a beginner could prove to be a little frustrating.
That aside, this is a great video showcasing some wonderful handlings and presentation ideas for classic effects that are sure-fire audience pleasers. Recommended.
Produced by Murphy's Magic. Available from your favorite dealer. Dealers should contact Murphy's Magic Supplies, Inc., http://www.murphysmagicsupplies.com
Suggested retail is $30.00
Coming soon to dvd!
You can contact Jon Allen directly at: email@example.com
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