Tuesday, 15 January 2008

A Glimpse into Another World...

I wasn't really planning on talking much about magic on this blog. I've drifted in and out of conjuring for most of my life, even made my living from it for a few years, and now I've put it back in its box as a rewarding hobby - which is where I think I'm most comfortable with it.

Every so often, though, I write a review of something I've bought that particularly impressed me. Magic-haters should feel free to skip this post but, for anyone else, here's my review of "The Coinjurer" - an instructional DVD of coin magic from David Neighbors and Meir Yedid Magic:

The Coinjurer DVD by David Neighbors (Meir Yedid Magic)

“The Coinjurer” is a DVD of high-impact coin magic from David Neighbors - and that, if you know your world-class coin magicians, is pretty much all you need to hear. Well, you should probably also know that it’s a DVD release of an A-1 video from the nineties – but other than that you should now have all the information you need to convince you to buy this.

Admittedly, that’s fairly light for a review, so let’s look a little closer.

“The Coinjurer” is a good-looking, professionally produced DVD. The video transfer is decent and the material is strong. A couple of fairly standard gaffs are required, and one slightly less standard item that can be bought directly from David. The material should be within the range of anyone who performs with coins regularly, and every single routine had at least one phase that fooled me. That last point is a major one for me, since it means that the moment I saw the performances I knew I was going to learn something. Moreover, these immediately looked like routines I was going to want to perform.

There are seven routines taught on the DVD (although one of them is actually a three-phaser):

1) EZ Hank Backfire
This is a four-coin assembly, using the folded corners of a handkerchief for covers. The backfire ending is very striking and the handling is uncomplicated and direct. David’s use of sound management adds a few beautifully subtle convincers to the body of the routine that really help to set up the climax.

2) Open Travellers
A pseudo-gambling plot established in the early moments of this routine gently wrong-foots the spectators, setting up some genuinely startling gaffed sequences. A charming and effective routine.

3) Hypnotic Stone
With roots in David Roth’s “Coins, Purse and Glass”, this effect is an extremely visual attack on the senses. The necessary items are introduced logically, and inventive handling of the gaff produces some beautiful transformations. The tight camera angle used for much of the performance diminishes the effectiveness of David’s misdirection in a couple of places, but the effect is still clear and compelling.

4) 3-Coin Monte
Another routine with a gambling flavour. A high-impact sleight-of-hand phase lays the groundwork for an utterly bewildering sequence once the gaffs are rung in. Again, David’s intensive understanding of the importance of sound in magic comes into play. This one had me leaping for the DVD remote to watch the performance again immediately. Probably my favourite routine on the DVD, and one that I’ll definitely use often.

5) Winged Copper/Silver
A mildly gaffed appearance of three silver coins, one at a time, between three coppers. This is a strong, solid effect, and ends with the compelling impression of the last coin appearing within a stack left in plain view on the table.

6) Trilogy
A three-phase routine showing the deftness with which David’s magic flows from one effect to another (something that’s always impressed me). Silver and brass coins pass through a soft spot in the table, jump invisibly from hand to hand and finally disappear altogether – despite the fact that they were clearly heard jingling in the performer’s hand right up until the very last moment. A powerful, professional routine with a smooth progression.

7) Triple Change Wild Coin
Credit is again given to David Roth, this time for his “Wild Coin” effect. I’m a sucker for Wild Coin variations, and this one is a legitimate gem. It contains what is, for me, one of the prettiest transformations in coin magic (credited as a variation of a Joe Givan sleight). Features a massive kicker ending as the coins, rather than returning to normal as might be expected, suddenly turn into three entirely different coins. Beautiful magic, leaving the spectators with absolutely nowhere to go.

In addition to the routines, there is a “Tools” section, detailing David’s handling of the Palm-to-Palm Change and a changeover move credited to Gary Kurtz. Other sleights are covered as they appear in the explanations. There is also a performance-only section called “Pantomimes”, which is an entertaining jumbo coin flurry set to music.

Coin magic agnostics and absolute beginners should probably look elsewhere, but anyone with an interest in top-level coin work will find a great deal for them on this DVD. It’s superb magic from one of the most respected and furiously creative minds in the field.

A few notes in closing:
My name is Cy Dethan. I’m a professional writer/editor, currently working in comics. Before that, I was a professional magician for three and a half years. Other than being an occasional customer, I have no personal or professional relationship with either David Neighbors or Meir Yedid Magic.

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