Inspirational. You may think that is an exaggeration for a magic DVD. But Max Maven’s Kayfabe genuinely deserves that adjective. This is a four volume DVD set to which I cannot do justice in a short review, But I will try to give you a flavour of the set and of why I am so enthusiastic about it.

The mentalist of the modern age?

I first saw Max moving about 30 years ago on a television series called the best of magic. as a young boy all I knew then was that he looked pretty distinctive. As I’ve grown older, and learnt more about the wonderful magical arts, I’ve come to realise he’s one of the most knowledgeable magicians (and most prolific inventors) of the modern era. That look, which was so distinctive, is all part of an attitude to performing where everything is thought through and intentional.

The 4 DVDs in this set covering enormous range of very high quality mentalism and magic. Most of the material has not appeared in print or on DVD before. Max is an incredibly clear and deliberate teacher and each explanation is full of gems of detail which are priceless. Even down to the specifics of where to have your spectator stand.

Like me, you may be wondering where the name ‘Kayfabe’ came from. Max explains all to those who are not familiar with a particular form of US-based entertainment. And I will leave him to explain the term to you, and it’s fascinating link with the style of mentalism Maven performs.

What’s on Kayfabe?

max maven - kayfabe - reviewI’m not going to give you a detailed blow by blow account of all the effects taught on Kayfabe. However, suffice to say, many of the mentalism classics are given the Max-imum treatment. There are predictions, coincidence effects, psychometry effects etc. etc.

His take on Confabulation, to take but one example, is a superb lesson in creating an engaging premise or frame for a routine, and in justifying every action. Unlike many mentalists, Maven has no problem using playing cards in his performances and there are some clever pieces involving the pasteboards.

I love the premise and boldness of Rorrim and there’s a superb variation on The Trick That Cannot be Explained. It includes multiple performances so you can really understand the ‘jazzing’ required. Slightly annoyingly he leaves one incredibly strong effect performed multiple times but not explained.

In a 4-disk set, you might be surprised that it only includes 14 effects. But these are taught in exquisite detail. As you can imagine, if you are familiar with his work, the influences for each one are meticulously credited – which is in itself a fascinating journey through magical history.

Most of the effects rely more on presentational skill and subtlety than difficult handling – though a couple are slightly more technically demanding.

Not just the tricks

For me one of the high points of this (as many of the EMC sets) is the extended interview – in four segments – where Louis de Matos interviews Maven about his life and influences. It is fascinating stuff which was extremely honest. Whilst I don’t agree with all of his ideas, it was wonderful to hear them and to understand some of the factors which have shaped this man.

Bonus features also included a documentary about Maven called Fabulous Monster which included more live performing footage and interviews. Fascinating. Also a couple of lectures from the EMC conferences in previous years which were very interesting.

As a reviewer, I tend to only ask to review things that I am interested in, which is why so many of my reviews score pretty positively – they are ‘self-selecting’ in that sense. However, Kayfabe stands out as one of the most enjoyable DVD sets I have had the pleasure of watching.

Max is such a compelling performer and is so thought-through about all that he does that I defy you not to pick up many useful tips on the way, to say nothing of some excellent magic. If I had a criticism, I found the menu system on the DVD a bit frustrating (I seem to recall this is a bit of a feature of the EMC DVDs) – and on my PC I had a few problems with sound etc. It is possible that is to do with my computer, since it played fine in my DVD player.

Those minor issues notwithstanding, Kayfabe has stimulated me to explore a whole new line of presentation in one of the more niche fields that I work in. I hope that you will find it equally inspiring.

You can pick up a copy of Kayfabe from the good folk at At £151.99 it does represent a significant investment. But in my opinion it is worth it.

Review copy kindly provided by Murphys Magic to whom dealer enquiries should be directed.

Max Maven – Kayfabe – review
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