I’d never heard of Chris Ramsay until I started looking at Red Pill, and so when I got to the words (and they come quite early on the DVD) ‘there’s nothing more powerful’ – I thought it was a big claim to make. Having spent some time on the whole thing I still think it’s a bold claim – but it is certainly true that this is a very powerful effect.
So what is the effect?
A couple of different routines are taught, but the basic ‘effect’ is of a playing card appearing under the cellophane of a sealed deck of cards. It all happens in the spectator’s hands and it really is that clean.
In the original Red Pill routine, there’s a bit more to it. A card is chosen from a blue deck of cards and then disappears. A card then appears underneath the cellophane in a sealed red deck which has been freely shown. This matches the value of the card which disappeared, but turns out to be the same card from the red deck. When the wrapper is removed and the deck unsealed, the blue card is found to be in the midst of the deck! An astonishing effect.
The name of the effect is an allusion to the cult film The Matrix and that is the presentational hook Chris uses. Some sleight of hand is needed to make this work well though the handling gives you plenty of cover. The necessary sleights are all explained in a separate section which goes through the necessary moves in some detail and with multiple camera angles.
There is also a one deck variation called Secret. This is the same sort of thing as Red Pill, but the card is ‘merely thought of’. Of course this isn’t strictly true, but Chris has worked out a nice equivoque based script which will get to the card you want. It is similar to some of Mark Elsdon’s excellent work on this – and is definitely very serviceable. I’m quite comfortable with this kind of language based forcing – if you’re just starting out you’ll need a bit of practise to get confident/fluent. But if you can put this across well it is a very strong effect.
What do we think?
Chris himself is a nice, understated and funny guy. His explanation is almost like an ongoing stream of consciousness with little gags all the way. His pace of explanation is very comfortable and his style is laid back – this is easy to watch and everything is well shot and clear.
If you’ve any experience in magic you will understand that an effect like this is going to take some time in preparation. First you have to ‘finish’ a gimmick which is provided. This is very easy to do, will only take 5 minutes and minimal skill and is ‘one off’ – it should last you for a decent length of time.
However, there is also extra preparation for each performance. This more fiddly. It will no doubt get quicker as you do it many times, but to get an effect as visual as this there is bound to be some pay off.
We love the concept – it is really strong and I would say well worth the effort in preparation. The fact that is happens in the spectator’s hands increases the strength of the effect many times over. I suspect you’re not going to be doing this at every performance – and probably nor should you – Chris himself has a section where he encourages you to save it for a special moment and make much of that. He has some extra ideas on how to add even more strength to this. I can easily see how you could book many gigs off the back of a well-timed performance of this.
So if you’re prepared to invest some time in doing the necessary preparation to give your spectator a very powerful moment of magic, then we highly recommend this.
Available from Merchant of Magic for only £17.99 (at time of writing).
Review copy kindly provided by Murphys Magic to whom dealer enquiries should be directed.