I think that Storyteller is the first release by Ravi Mayar that we have reviewed on this site, and it is clear to me that he is a creative guy who produces some lovely organic magic which appears very natural. On this roughly one and half hour long DVD you will learn 7 effects which are all marked by simplicity of method and directness of effect. None of them involve playing cards! Let’s get straight into…
MBZ – I presume stands for matchbox to zippo – and that is exactly what you see. With no cover, a matchbox waved in the hand turns into a zipper lighter. Very neat.
Post X – An ‘x’ drawn on a post it note jumps to a previously signed post it note held by the spectator. The method here is fairly obvious to a magician watching – but fooling for a layperson. And, as explored in the extra thoughts section, you could use this method for a whole variety of effects depending on your presentation style.
Mini Bar – a 2 stage (mini) bottle production. A small clear bottle appears in your hands – and then suddenly a label appears and it turns into a proper bottle of vodka (or the spirit of your choice!). A novel idea though not one that really appealed to me.
Refresh – Torn and Restored stick of chewing gum. I found the optical illusion here not very convincing – but I haven’t tried it in anger so I’m prepared to believe it is stronger in performance than on the DVD. But again, I appreciate the simplicity and subtlety of the method.
Lotto Wallet – A bank note is produced from a lottery ticket. The handling looks slightly awkward to my mind, but it is a simple idea.
Travel Transpo – This is a great effect where a train ticket held in your hands swaps places with an Oyster card [non British/London readers – this is a kind of travel card used in London) in a ticket wallet held by the spectator. This could easily be adapted to your local train system if you don’t happen to live in London. This is one of my favourite effects on the DVD – since it is really visual and seems to happen in their hands.
ATM – You pull a bank note out of a credit card. This is probably my favourite item on the DVD. It looks so sweet and the plot just makes great sense. What you would do if you could do real magic.
The final section is in discussion with Stephen Leathwaite (of Psyborg fame) who shares a few subtleties and extra ideas for some of the routines.
All of the items on Storyteller require some craft work to create the gimmicks. None of this is too taxing – but you won’t be able to perform the minute you get the DVD. Making your own gimmicks is an advantage here because you can make them to fit your local products/tickets/etc
I think it is fair to say that there are no ground-breaking new principles here – in fact the majority of the effects actually use the same essential method. But I think what you’ve got here is some really creative and yet natural plots. Ravi has a knack for spotting what would make a good magical moment with the sort of items many of us carry around all the time.
I found the ‘introduction’ sections on each item fairly redundant. They pretty much just named the effect. I think they would have been more use and much more interesting if they had explored maybe the inspiration or background/credits for the effects.
My only other minor criticism would be of the sound quality which was a variable – and at different points on the DVD the level was quite different. It was much harder to hear Stephen Leathwaite, for example. But if needing to change the volume on your speakers a few times is the biggest problem with a DVD then you’ve not really got many complaints!
A final observation on the ‘style’ of the effects. Most of the effects are quite quick and visual – almost throw away items. The exceptions are Post-X and Travel Transpo which are slightly longer routines which to mind therefore involved the audience a bit more. But depending on your performing context they would all be strong.
If you like strong visual magic and aren’t intimidated by a little bit of craft-work, then Storyteller is well worth a look – and may well inspire you to create some similar routines of your own.
Storyteller is available from the Merchant of Magic for £27.99 (at the time of writing).
Review copy kindly provided by Murphys Magic to whom dealer enquiries should be directed.
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