Before I get to this week's review, just a few quick housekkeeping tidbits...
First, I performed Bobby Motta's TASTE today for the first time and I have to say, I LOVE it! That review will be coming the first week of November, after I've performed it a few more times.
Secondly, I'm still taking signups for my FREE ezine, "Cause & Effects," simply by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Next month's article will dealing with what happens when DISASTER strikes your show!
OK, on to this week's s-p-p-o-o-o-k-y review! (Hey, Halloween's coming!)
This week, I review Shivers by Gary Sumpter. It's available for $34.95 at Hocus Pocus. You can check it out here: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=6077
EFFECTS: All of the effects are off shoots of the touching-without-being-touched-by-anything-you-can-see popularized by Banachek's "PK Touches." I've been captivated by this plot for years. I've used the PK Touches basic effect for stage around 500 times and I like it so much because it's so unique - it's not a vanish, it's not a levitation, etc. When done properly, people are in awe. They don't know what to think, and they often do not know how to react or how to process what's happened!
WHAT YOU RECEIVE: A well-produced booklet of about 20 pages.
DIFFICULTY: As with many products of a 'spooky' nature, the technical needs of the effects are easy, but the real work comes from your scripting, mood, quality of your vocal tonality and more. Therefore, the technical needs of these effects range from a 1 out of 10 to maybe a 3 out of 10.
QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: Some of the instructions/secrets are rather sparse in terms of length, but everything is more than adequate.
I'll now walk through a few of the effects (though not all) and give my thoughts on the ones I have experimented with and/or performed...
Susceptible - The spectators eyes are covered with your fingertips. Despite them being able to feel your fingers, they feel touches on the back of their neck and head.
MY THOUGHTS: This is only useable for one on one performances. To do it in the daylight is silly, in my opinion, but if you're working with just one person while doing a reading by candlelight, this can play very creepy if you work your way into the right mood. I don't think most people will be all that amazed, so you'll have to pick your volunteer carefully.
Relax - A spectator sits down and closes their eyes, you are watched by a group of other spectators. You stand well away from the spectator on the chair and you ask the spectator to remain quiet and in a moment you will ask them a very important question. You silently stroke your shoulder a few times. You then ask the spectator if they felt anything, the comments that they felt you stroke their shoulder, despite you being nowhere near them.
MY THOUGHTS: This is terrific and it uses the original PK Touches concept in a slightly different, more subtle way. It's terrific and is a worthy off-shoot of the original effect. Probably my favorite of the booklet. I've done this and it plays incredibly strong. EASILY worth the price of the book.
Distant Touch - Standing well away from the spectator, you gesture towards them and they feel you touch them.
MY THOUGHTS: This is one of the strongest effects in the booklet in theory. I feel it's only for stage, mostly due to the lighting concerns you must be aware of with this effect. Since this is only for stage, one might wonder why this effect, which uses a common magic prop that requires special lighting, is superior to the original PK Touch effect. I like it because it happens in 'real time,' with no timing delays. I prefer the original PK touches, but this might be a good version to try with the right lighting conditions.
Focus - One on One, the spectator feels something pushing them from behind, despite your hands being in full view.
MY THOUGHTS: Unless you have a VERY compliant volunteer, I can see the person jerking away during the touching, looking around and spotting the gaff. In my opinion, the weakest effect in the booklet.
Connected - An ‘experiment’ in paranormal communication that takes an unplanned turn. A lighthearted attempt at making contact with the spirit goes off on a diagonal as things leave the performers control.
MY THOUGHTS: While I have not tried this yet, it reads as VERY strong - the kind of effect that can really send shivers down the audiences' back. It's one of those effects that you can use sparingly but will 'stick' with an audience a LONG time, Potentially VERY creepy.
The Crying Child - A disturbing performance, centered around the spirit of a young girl.
MY THOUGHTS: While technically very easy, the main issue with this is the fact that you must have superior acting skills. Again, this reads as very powerful and the technical needs are relatively 'easy' but the true test is the acting.
The rest of the book has other practical, spooky effects but the ones I covered here are my favorites. Nevertheless, the remainder of the book has some great psychology.
The big 'takeway' with books of this sort is the necessity of good acting. I've mentioned that several times in this entry so far and it's been deliberate. I've performed 'Bizarre' type magic in years past and it is indeed fun, but these days, I don't do it much any more mostly because of the acting required to really give these effects their due.
I'm more of a comedic performer, and while I do some serious stuff, the vast majority of my work is geared toward 'the funny.'
So, in closing, if this type of stuff is your cup of tea, I can certainly recommend it.
My rating: 8 out of 10.
Until next week, with more s-p-o-o-o-o-k-y reviews....