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On to this week's review.
This effect is called Fate? by Rick Maue. It's available at Hocus Pocus for $34.95. Here's a link to the product description: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=6547
EFFECT DESCRIPTION: Imagine this: Five audience members are brought forward--one joins the performer at the center of the performing area, and the other four position themselves in the four corners of the stage (where there are four laminated targets to mark the spots).
Six small squares of aluminum foil are introduced-wrapped inside each one is either a blue poker chip or a red poker chip. From the corners, the four audience members each select a foil packet, which are opened to reveal the color of the poker chip chosen by each person. The two remaining packets are also opened to see what two chips have been left behind.
At this point, the performer poses a question to everyone about whether they believe that the decisions that they make every day actually affect their lives-or is everything that happens predetermined? In other words, is everything simply in the hands of FATE?
The performer then asks the audience member at the center of the stage to pick up a small stack of cardboard signs that has been sitting facedown on the table. As she displays them, one at a time, each sign details exactly what has just occurred-step-by-step-as if all of the choices made by the four different audience members were indeed predetermined.
But after the last sign is revealed, there is still one more surprise revelation that brings the routine to an amazing conclusion.
WHAT YOU RECEIVE:
15 Step-By-Step Message Signs
3 sets of five cards so that you can change the outcome for repeat shows
6 Laminated Target Cards (once again, extra laminated Targets are included so that you can change the final revelation for repeat shows)
12 Poker Chips
2 Pages of Detailed Photographs
ANGLES: This is angle-proof, so you can do it surrounded in a living room, yet the cards' predictions are large enough to be seen by a large audience. Thus far, the largest audience I've performed this for is 500 people and it plays well.
INSTRUCTION: Rick is an extremely clear writer, meaning that you will have no problem whatsover understanding this effect. The physical handling is very, very easy from a technical end, meaning you'll have no fancy moves to worry about. This is one you devote all of your efforts into the presentation. There are some simple foil gimmicks to construct, but I had mine finished (all six gimmicks) in about 30 minutes and so far, with care, they have held up over about 20 performances.
DURABILITY: Since the gimmicks you must construct are made of aluminum foil, they are delicate in nature, but again, with care they will last. If you're rough on props, make a few extra sets for those days you're doing three back to back shows, both to minimize re-set and also enable you to relax in that frenzied "gotta get the next show set" time period between gigs.
The prediction signs are standard card stock, so I recommend carrying the signs in a thick envelope, like a padded mailer or a FedEx envelope for protection. The "target" signs, since people stand on them, see the most wear-n-tear. Fortunately, Rick went to the trouble of laminating those signs.
MARKET: This is not suited for children's shows, but I have performed this many times for both teen groups and adult groups of all sizes.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: Like I said, this plays well, as the plot is easy to follow and by involving 5 people on stage, you're filling the stage nicely. I have to say, though, that while this gets a good response for me, it doesn't get a great response. This is a fine effect for a "middle" act in your show, but I wouldn't close with it. That's not a 'knock' on the effect - the worst thing you could do when structuring a show is stack closer upon closer. So it's a good effect.
I have a personal theory (or preference) as to how I choose most of my mentalism effects. In constructing mentalism shows, I feel the strongest parts of the show are the parts where it seems as though you say to an audience member, "think of any word," then you show you knew what word they were thinking or an even more personal choice: "think of your six grade best friend," and you reveal that name.
In other words, for me (JUST my preference) often the strongest effects are those involving seemingly infinite choices and even better, personal information that could not be accessed.
The prediction of which colored poker chips will be selected is not a broad enough selection nor is it personal. Of course, purists will be screaming at me about 1-out-of-5 choices (equivoque) or card effects, etc. that play fantastic.
Again, I'm not saying this or any similar effect is not a good effect, only that I don't feel it's as strong as a personal choice...there's no emotional connection to a poker chip. It's simply a comparison. Obviously, you could change this with scripting, but Rick's supplied script is very tight and clear.
Overall, I certainly would not close with this effect, for my personal tastes, but if you're looking for a clear, easily understood effect with no angle problems that gets a nice, solid response, I can highly recommend it.
Since I base most of my reviews on audience response, I'll give this a 7 out of 10. It's a well-put together product, but in my own experience, this is not going to be the effect that people gush about after your show. When I ask audiences afterwards what they thought, they'd say, "Oh, that was nice," and then they'd go on and on about what truly captivated them.
Good solid effect and a good solid value that's very reasonably priced.
Thanks for reading and as always, I welcome feedback. Please send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.