Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Multiplicity DVD and Yet Another TASTE Update

Hey Everybody,

Cris Johnson here with more magic review goodness! I'm going to be quick because I've only got a short amount of time between shows today. Busy, busy, busy!

First of all, I'm doing something today that I don't think I've ever done - I am revising my score for a product! As the title of this week's blog suggests, it's for Bobby Motta's TASTE.

When I first reviewed it, I believe I gave it a 9 out of 10. I felt that the product was put together extremely well and from a technical standpoint it was sensational. I also wrote that while my response to the effect was quite good, I anticipated the response getting even better over time.

Well, after tweaking my script slightly, the response went through the ROOF! I can now safely say TASTE is a perfect 10 out of 10. You see, it's so easy to just judge a product by the package you receive, but I decided when I started this blog nearly a year ago I decided that the audience reaction for the effect would factor into the score.


Simple - Certain effects that look great or have cool props have (for me) sometimes fallen flat. Now I know that one man's trash is another man's treasure, which is why reviews are tricky. Nevertheless, I feel very comfortable bumping up TASTE's score to a 10 out of 10. One of the BEST releases of the year, bar none.

Now, onto this week's new review...Multiplicity by Max maven. It's available for $71.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here’s the ad copy:

EFFECT: The main thrust of this DVD is exploring the concept of Equivoque, although other mentalism tools are explored, such as the concept of multiple outs.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: You get one DVD that they manged to cram over 3 hours onto – quite a feat! Interestly, there is a small ‘effect’ right on the back of the DVD package. Simply turn the package over, read it, and you’re instantly introduced to Max’s thinking. It’s not earth-shattering, but it’s nice that someone used the DVD case in a unique way.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: It’s Max Maven so you know the instruction is top-notch. There are something like 24 effects on this DVD and almost all are practical and many can be adapted for stage or used for close up.

DIFFICULTY: There are few technical moves on this DVD. (A few, and they’re easy) The real work is going to come from your scripting and making sure you have rehearsed enough so that when using equivoque you don’t hesitate between choices. This is a concept Max spends a lot of time on.

MY THOUGHTS: Overall, this is a marvelous release. An added bonus is the presence of special guest Eugene Burger, whom I adore. I had the privilege of meeting Eugene years ago in Chicago and in my opinion, there’s no one classier than Eugene.
The effects themselves use objects and concepts like coins, famous paintings, clocks, and many more. My particular favorite was the routine in which the spectator is asked to name off several children’s songs. The person then picks one of the songs and Max plays the song on one of those little portable recorders that hold 30 seconds or so of sound.
This is a sensational idea and I immediately began thinking of ways to adapt it to stage. I should note that in this particular piece, Max does not explain one important component that makes this effect work. However, my experience in mentalism immediately gave me the solution to fill in the rest of the secret. I admit, I felt pretty proud of myself when this hit me.

Of the majority of effects using just equivoque for the solution, Max teaches some fascinating, advanced concepts regarding equivoque and then plays several routines, including the aforementioned song effect. Max himself states he deliberately did not teach each individual effect by itself, instead asking that viewers study each effect and apply what Max has given us.

Fair enough – it makes for great viewing and many of the routines show off Max’s quirky sense of humor, something that I feel was missing in some of his earlier (yet still marvelous) L&L releases). I found myself laughing out loud as Max used handcuffs in an equivoque presentation in which he handcuffs the participant! GREAT stuff, and if I was going to use any routine “straight out of the box,” that would be it.

Another high point is an effect in which Max places four cards in a spectator’s pocket and the spectator says the number 1, 2, 3 or 4 and that many cards has LEFT his pocket. A similar effect is demoed on the ad. This one fooled me badly the first 3 times I watched it.

Max really takes the concept of the audience only knowing what they see and nudging their thoughts in certain directions bit by bit using fascinating psychology.

The only gripe I have is the fact that Max does NOT explain the sensational Handout effect, viewable on the demo in which Eugene chooses a bad that does not have a brick in it. I don’t need to go further than that, as I know from reading on line that many people were most excited by this presentation. After watching it, I can be sure of at least one thing – Max is not using equivoque, as his language suggests no discernable ‘out’ before Eugene makes his choice.

This aspect of the DVD has caused some debate. Some have felt that Max has given us enough tools in the DVD to piece together a method for the Handout effect while others, such as myself, felt disappointment that this effect was used to market the DVD for sale without a “Performance Only” notation.

Regardless, this is a fantastic release that forces viewers to really think about their craft and Max, Eugene and Jeff McBride and others of their ilk are the best at doing just that.

MY REVIEW: It’s Max maven…along with a laughing, giggling Eugene Burger! How could I not give this a 10 out of 10? I didn’t describe every effect because there’s just so much, but trust me, buy this DVD and you’ll find something to add to your act. And you’ll get some great food for thought.

Until next time…

Cris Johnson

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