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EL3DON - Mark Elsdon

The Hype:
This is a bundle of three downloads by the ingenious Mark Elsdon, and each one is a showstopping performance piece that can be learned in no time at all.

Strange Oblique is Mark's new take on his classic Tequila Hustler effect. In this hilarious version, you nominate one person to be a "liar" and the rest of the viewers to be truth-tellers. You then ask a series of ridiculous questions: "Would you go on a cycling holiday with her?" "Would you eat a taco from a stranger?" And yet, at the end of the silliness, you are able to discern exactly who the liar is. No pre-show, no electronics, no sleight-of-hand, no secret confederates.

Limelight - This is creator Mark Elsdon's favorite effect he has ever created. You cause a participant to instantly become the most interesting person in any gathering. Without any advanced training, you take a volunteer and "gift" her the ability to perform absolute miracles with a pack of cards. She can divine selected cards from other participants, tell someone else which card they are thinking of, and do an incredible version of ACAAN.

NYC Opener - In this effect a card is selected, vanishes and appears inside the card box. But that doesn't do it justice. It's a full, multi-phased card routine that is easy to perform (thanks to the simple, but useful gimmick supplied) and is squeaky clean!

My Take:

Without a doubt, this is one of the best bargains being offered. When Limelight was originally released, it was in book form and can still be ordered through Penguin for $65.00. In this download, you get not only Limelight but two other great routines for only $25.00. And you don't get the video instruction with the book. Instruction is via three separate video downloads totaling around 2 hours. The quality of each video is excellent. You also receive a pdf file explaining Strange Oblique.

Strange Oblique. First of all, Mark caught my attention by referencing one of my favorite books, "What is the Name of this Book?" by Raymond Smullyan. He goes into great deal on logic and it's a blast to read the book. Lewis Carroll (the author of "Alice in Wonderland" published many logic problems based on the liar and truth teller theme. A quick Google search will show a number of these problems.) There have been a few mentalism routines based on this school of thought. What makes the premise so deceptive is that the average spectator cannot follow the thinking. Since the mentalist knows the answer he is looking for, the working is easy for him.

Where the challenge comes is is how to not only find a new presentation but one that both fools and entertains. Mark has succeeded on both counts here. The deception is complete, easy to do and his premise makes this a fun routine not only for the audience but for the mentalist, too. You are allowed to ask questions that have nothing to do with the information that you are trying to get. Make them as strange or as funny as you want. If you are doing a corporate gig, write questions slanted towards your employer. I could even see this being used in a comedy club if you come up with some hilarious questions.

This is one routine I am really looking forward to using. One of the big assets to this is that it is entirely propless. If you are with a group and they want to see something, you are always 100% ready.

We have all seen routines where the spectator does the lion's share of the work and some of these are quite good. However, when I read about an extended routine where the spectator accomplishes multiple phases on her own, it definitely catches my attention.

Limelight is designed as a closer and I fail to see how else it could be used. Most of us try to have a smooth flow between effects to make the performance seamless. After completing Limelight, you will lose your audience because everyone will be talking about what they just saw.

Instead of giving you the list of reasons to buy Mark's routine, let me tell you why you should not buy it,
You have a pathological need to show how great your chops are with a deck of cards. There are no chops here!
You have no personality. This routine requires you to get up and close with your "volunteer" and make a new friend.
You have no sense of humor. If you do this routine and don't get a big response, you didn't practice hard enough. (Or maybe, nobody likes you)
Your show is about you. The spectator is just there to make you look better. Hey, the whole point of this is to make the spectator a star.

If these reasons do not apply to you, you need this in your arsenal. The only caveat I have is that it is a fairly long routine. As is, it would probably not play well on a stage setting or with a large group. I would say a group of maybe 10 to 15 would be just about right.

From a small group, one is chosen to be your assistant. A woman works best for this. The routine builds and gradually gets a little more complex. You are actually training your assistant to follow your instructions as you move through the phases. She will perform multiple tricks for her friends having no idea how she is doing it. (This is a five phase routine and has three card revelations in phase one alone). Although each effect is simple, Mark varies the procedure to make it impossible for your audience to back engineer how your assistant is doing it. Personally, when I first started watching this, I thought it might not play because a lot of it was obvious to me. Then I realized, it is not supposed to fool me. It is supposed to fool my audience and just think how many of them still fall for the versions of the Princess card trick on Facebook. This will not only fool them but your assistant as well.

Mark has obviously put a lot of thought into compiling this routine. A lot of magic is presented and each phase flows smoothly into the next. However if you decide on the purchase, keep this in mind. The routine (while easy to do) is long and it will take practice and memorization. If you are willing to put the time and effort into learning to do this properly, you will have a closer that will keep your audience talking for days and also make a star out of one of their friends.

When I first saw the name of NYC Opener, my mind went to Chicago Opener (Red Hot Mama) as I had seen numerous versions of that. This, however, references the Open Prediction plot. Two gaffs are needed which you don't receive with a download. However, most of us already have them in our drawer. I know that I do.

There is a little arts and crafts involved but it is very minimal. The routine does have some sleights but these are well within the range of the average card worker.

As with the others in this download, Mark manages to involve a group of participants and fools them all. I have seen some other open prediction effects that also use gaffs. In this version, Mark shows you an easy way to ditch the gimmicks so you do end clean. The trick has two possible endings but this can be expanded according to what you have in your gaff drawer.

In NYC, Mark has given you a very nice routine that, as Daryl put it, is a real fooler dooler. It is easy to do and it will have them scratching their heads. Of the three effects in this download, I would rank this effect as #3 but as the others are so strong being #3 is not a bad thing. It still makes this a really strong and fun routine to do.

In conclusion, for $25.00, this is an absolute steal. Every one of these is a reputation maker and none of them are sleight heavy. They all depend on your skill as an entertainer. The mechanics are not difficult so it leaves you room to sell this to your audience. In case you haven't guessed, I highly recommend this.
John C
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OK, as far as limelight goes is it something that can be performed once a week, a month without reviewing the method?

Is it impromptu? Can I pull out an already used (performed with) deck of cards and shuffle and perform it?

The ULTIMATE Routine Series: rebirth soon!
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No, it does require a little preparation.
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Thanks Jim, nice review.
Ross W
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Limelight is going to be my new favourite trick. It suits me very well. It's super easy, but very fooling. I watched the download once, ran through it once, and did an impromptu version with good friends on the same day. It was a big success. More rehearsal required to get the timing, beats right etc. but this is going to be a winner for me.
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I'm glad this thread got bumped because I had not seen this review or the trailer previously. Looks pretty good. I'll add this to the christmas list. Thanks Canaday for putting the review up.
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