REVIEW: Wayne Dobson’s A LIFE IN MAGIC

Hi all,

it’s two years ago since my last post, but I got side tracked by another non magic project. I was trying to market an inventionof mine, a new children audio player, which took all of my time and resources. Finally I got some time to get back to magic and so also to my blog.

When scanning my favorite magic web sites, I saw, that Wayne Dobson has published a new DVD set. Actually it’s no that new, but I had not heard about it so far.

I’m a big fan of Wayne, since watching his great TV Stuff DVD series. Actually seeing him gave me back my enthusiasm for magic at that time. Unfortunately the TV Stuff Series is no longer available, but luckily a lot of their video clips are now on YouTube (At the end of this post I have added some of my favourite videos).

The DVDs:

The DVDs show a selection of Waynes favourite pieces. As of Waynes physical condition, he can no longer perform them himself. So he choose to show video footage from the high period of his carrier and let two young performers (Mark James and  Matthew J. Dowden) show their own interpretation and explanation of them. In addition there are short discussions with Wayne on the effects and some excerpts from Blackpool Magic Convention 2010 where Wayne got his LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, hosted by Michael J Fitch:


DVD Vol.1

5 CARD REPEAT

One of Wayne’s signature effects. I think that it plays really good. And the method is easy to learn. Although it’s not really my not my cup of tea. But perhaps I will try it sometimes.

RINGFLASH

One of my favorites on this disc. A borrowed ring vanishes and changes into a necklace.The ring then reappears with a flash on the closed necklace . Mark James handling is amazing. The transformation of the ring into a necklace is in my opinion much better than just to  vanish the ring. This is a great alternative for any standard Ring Flight effect.

I for sure will take this trick into my repertoire.

BANANA DRAMA

Without words:

Fully explained. Matthew J. Dowden shows the trick in a close up situation, were it plays equally well

NAILED

My second favourite on Vol.1: A card is freely chosen by a spectator and signed. It’s then put back into the card box and the box is put into an envelope. A nail is thrusted through the envelope. While the spectator(s) hold the nail, the performer pulls the envelope free from the nail and the chosen cards appears stabbed onto the nail. I liked the effect so much that I instantly practiced and tried it in my next performance. The reaction was superb.

One tip when you try it: The misdirection on the appearance of the stabbed card is so strong, that you can easily steal the deck out of the envelope and tear the envelope in pieces when the audience gets back to you.

GUESSTIMATION

This is one of Wayne’s “No Hands” effects, that is completely done by the spectator. The spectator cuts the deck and the magician tells exactly how many cards the assistant cut. This is repeated three times. On the last go it seems that the magician failed, but he reveals a prediction that shows the difference to the correct number.

Although the effect and methods is interesting for me this is the weakest effect of the disc.

 

DVD Vol.2

For me Volume 2 is the weakest of the three DVDs, so I will only talk about the good pieces on it:

SILK IN CIG/CARD BOX

A silk vanishes in the hand and reappears in a cigarette/card box. Very direct, visual magic. As Wayne points out today it’s sometimes difficult to get a cigarette box from a spectator as smoking is less accepted. But in my opinion the cigarette box version that Wayne does in the video clip (unfortunately not on youtube) is much more entertaining.

FOURSEEN

An effect that was sold as stand alone trick before, is now on this disc. It’s a prediction with a very nice revelation. Wayne’s original version used 6 spectators, so he would have to name it SIXSEEN :-) . This version is streamlined, uses only 4 spectators and is much better suited for our MTV-Generation’s short attention span.  But watch for yourself:

RING ON ROPE

First we see Wayne TV performance where the ring reappears in a key case. Actually Wayne himself credits this routine to Roy Johnson his early mentor. Matthew J. Dowden shows his close up take on it, where the borrowed ring ends up in a sealed envelope inside his wallet. This is a real working item!

LUCKY CARD

Wayne’s new take on the classic Dai Vernon plot: The trick that can’t explained, which was the trick with that Vernon fooled Houdini. I don’t know Vernon’s version, but I like Wayne’s. Again it’s a “No Hands” and, as Wayne says, simplified version of it. To make learning it easier, there is a Pdf-document on the DVD that you can print out, which is a great idea to include. The trick focuses on variations of the phrase ‘Lucky Card’, so if you are not performing in english you will have to work out your own variation sheme.

DVD Vol.3

INVISIBLE DECK

This is my absolute favorite together with RINGFLASH on this DVDs. When I first saw Wayne’s performance on the TV Stuff DVDs I was floored. It’s extremely entertaining and the method is brilliant. You don’t need any special deck and it’s really easy to do.

For those, who already know the secret: I tink it could be helpful to use a card index.

CONTINUOUS DO AS I DO

When I watched the performance on (again) the TV Stuff DVDs I was completely fooled. In 2010 in Black Pool Patrick Page performed it for me and I bought his great DVD The Page Boy Speaks. It’s great that Wayne has included this piece on the DVD. Here’s the plot: A spectator get’s half of a regular deck, both of you shuffle their halves. Both cut their cards and swap the new top cards. When  these cards are shown it turns out that both cards match in color and value (e.g. 3 of clubs and 3 of spades). This is repeated three times. What a coincidence!

THE CRYING GAME

Basically it’s Card to impossible location. As the card is not signed, it would not be outstanding trick. But if you see Waynes performance and which impossible location he choose, you will enjoy it a lot, I promise.

SECOND CHANCE

A trick that was originally sold own it’s on. Have a look:

I like the trick, but I don’t like Mark James’ presentation. To help preparing the necessary setup ther is a Pdf-document on the DVD too.

ACAAN ALMOST

Wayne’s take on the Any Card At Any Number plot. “No Hands” trick that will work every time.

MARKED PHENOMENA

Compared with ACAAN ALMOST, I think this is the stronger effect, because it gives the spectator the feeling that he is able to read the performers mind: The spectator is shuffling the deck and cuts it. He looks at the top card of any of the halves and shows the performer the top card of the other half. Both halves are shuffled. The spectator shows his cards each one at a time and the performer acknowledges which one was the spectators card. Then the spectator is asked to select a card from the performers cards which he thinks that it was the performers card. When the performer names his card it is revealed that it was indeed the card that the spectator had selected. This all is done completely by the spectator. The performer never touches the deck.

Conclusion

The production quality of the DVD is what you would expect from a today’s product. Naturally the video clips from the 80s and 90s are of lower quality. Over all I’m a bit biased about this DVD set:

Cons:

  • The look of the DVD production tries to give a hipp feeling which in my opinion does not fit to the content
  • During the interviews with Wayne often some unnerving humming sound is laid over, I guess this should make it sound more dramatic. Again it’s not appropriate and makes it difficult to understand Wayne.
  • I personally could not really connect with the young performers, Especially Mark James (sorry Mark). Considering the importance of Waynes contribution to the world of magic I would have liked to see someone classier.
  • The settings where the life close up performances were shot are too noisy. I can understand the reasoning behind the decision to shoot life situations but I don’t like this style.
  • Product placement by  Mark James & Matthew J. Dowden. More than once they refer to their own DVD products.
  • Not really a contra but if you are not a native speaker of the English language, it’s sometimes hard to understand Wayne in the interviews.

Pros:

  • Thoroughly tests material for a working magician. You can take them and you will be sure they are Workers.
  • Maybe (hopefully not) the last chance to meet Wayne in this way and take part in his thoughts. It’s hard to see, that Wayne’s condition declined again since I met him in 2010 in Blackpool. So I think it’s great for the whole magic community that he decided to document his live in magic at a time when he is still able to do it.
  • I’m happy that Wayne decided to include parts of his Awarding from Blackpool. For one because I did not make it to watch it live, but also as it’s highly entertaining with the gags and anecdotes in between.
  • I like the idea of combining performance videos and interviews with todays thoughts on the pieces mixed with stories and anecdotes.
  • I love they way Wayne is ablle to make fun of his illness.

Wish list (what I liked to have included)

  • As bonus the missing video clips that were included on the TV Stuff DVDs
  • Waynes Egg bag (see below)
  • Having Wayne be interviewed more on his carrier like he talks in his book WD 40 which you should definitely get (It’s now available as Pdf download).

In spite of the named contras I would definitely recommend to buy this set. If you are a magician who wants too meet one of the important performers of magic of the 20th century get it. If you are a working pro that is looking for real world workers get it even more.

You should order the DVDs directly from Waynes website.

Price: £50

If you are on Blackpool Magic Convention 2013, make sure to stop by at Waynes booth.

 

Bonus:

If you haven’t seen the gag with David Williamson live at Blackpool Magic convention 2010, you might not fully understand it that’s what happened:

David came out on the stage and announced he wants to show his newest trick that is controlled by a radio control set. Inspite of his fumbling with the radio control the trick does not work. Instead suddenly Wayne with his wheel chair rolls onto the stage and starts to drive completely out of control. In the end the wheel char runs off stage and a moment later a lone wheel rolls out of the wings. It was hilarious!

Here now are some of my favourite video clips  of Wayne that you can find on YouTube:

http:v//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wlzi3QkLieo

 

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