Time is short, so this week I'm going to get right to it. This week's review is something I've been using for a little over two years now, so I can really speak with authority on this, having performed it in the neighborhood of about 400 times. It's Parasols From Anywhere by Joker Lam. Here's the links for the parsols themselves, the DVD teaching it all, and the 'scabbard' set, waistband, etc to hide the parasols as they are loaded on your body: DVD- $44.95 -http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=7239 Parasols: - $69.95 - http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=7238 and the 'scabbard' set - $54.95 - http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=8782
All are available from Hocus Pocus and if you're new to this kind of work, you'll need all three. There are different colors and 'prints' available for the parasols and even different 'grades' of scabbard sets. I haven't noticed much different in terms of quality in the scabbard set other than the 'elegant' set has some material made of velvert, but this does not impact the workings in my view.
EFFECT: Bright colorful parasols (umbrellas) are produced in various ways!
DVD QUALITY: The picture is clear and Joker does an acceptable job teaching the techniques. He teaches it in his native tongue and there is English dubbed over, which results in a few semantic bits of confusion as some of the translations don't make complete sense, but overall, I had no trouble understanding his intent.
The DVD also provides closeups and changes to the camera angle where needed to make learning much easier. I will say this - in a few cases, as I was first learning these techniques, there are a few 'real world' things I had to figure out on my own, such as not having the handle of the parasol get caught under the waistband. Little things like this shorten the learning curve and I wish some of it was covered in more detail.
Also, one of the 'holders' is designed to go in your pant leg and pinned in place. No mention is made of how to hide the glint of silver through your pant leg, making this technique a little less able to be worked in the real world.
QUALITY OF PARASOLS: The parasols hold up reasonably well for day to day use. In 2 years and after 400 performances, I've had two parasols wear out and tear. Bear in mind that the production of the parasols is, from the point of view of wear and tear on the parasols, pretty violent, so the quality is reasonable, but certainly not meant to last a lifetime.
MY THOUGHTS: I first began exploring the idea of a parasol act as its a form of manipulation and production that plays HUGE and is very bright and colorful. I had been doing a dove act for a long time and wanted to replace it as traveling with doves is just too difficult for the amount of travel that I do. After trying a few other routines, I tried parasols.
The first thing I noted when I bought the material and began working on it is the amount of material that is unuseable due to severe angle problems. That being said, I was still able to develop a solid routine that plays great in almost all the schools I visit. In my routine, I produce a total of 11 parasols and the routine plays wonderfully for me. It's a shame that some of the really NEAT productions are so angle-sensitive, as there's some great looking stuff here.
I can completely recommend this material with the caveat that you really need to watch your angles and keep in mind the venues you work in when putting together your routine. NONE of this material can be done surrounded, so that's another consideration.
Also, since parasols 'snap' open, doing this in someone's living room is not advisable either. I feel this material is strictly for stage. The more you can control your performing conditions, the more of this stuff you'll be able to use.
MY RATING: I love so much of this, but can't use it. However, the stuff I CAN use plays great. I'll give it a solid 8 out of 10.
'TIL NEXT TIME: Email any questions, thoughts, etc to firstname.lastname@example.org.