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Review of The Treachery of Tricks by Francis Menotti

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Review of The Treachery of Tricks by Francis Menotti

The Treachery of Tricks by Francis Menotti

With his knowledge and technique, and intriguing theatrical presentations, Francis Menotti is a stand-out magic performer. At Hollywood’s Magic Castle, I have often enjoyed Menotti’s act and was particularly intrigued when I heard that he would be releasing and teaching magic on his “The Treachery of Tricks” DVD. The seven effects taught here, a mixture of stand up and close-up, are worthwhile and I enjoyed the “twists” that Menotti often adds to his routines. You’ll also find lots of insightful and interesting discussion about performing and presenting magic.

Stand-Up Mentalism

Vivid offers a strong bit of mentalism. An envelope is handed to an audience member and another spectator is asked to name a year. At the end, a coin is discovered in the envelope and it is found to have been minted in the very year named by the spectator. It’s an effect that’s filled psychological subtleties, and it’s well thought through - just what I would expect from Menotti. This effect is not a “sure thing,” but Menotti covers all the bases to present a high wire act that can pay big in dividends. Menotti teaches both stand up and close-up versions of this effect.

Wyrd is a prediction effect that’s framed with some clever wordplay. Spectators contribute numbers into a smart phone’s calculator and the resulting number is found to be relevant to a seemingly unrelated prediction. This effect is great for stand-up, and it’s an excellent one that can employ an iPhone in close-up situations. I recently worked up a version for my strolling work and it’s been getting great reactions.

Close-Up Coins

Next is a close-up coin routine that is not from Menotti’s stand-up act. It’s actually a mash-up of two Menotti routines: Two Sides of Every Coin - a quirky three coin production, and Imaginary Coins- a three coin vanish, which go together. I really like Menotti’s take on coins because it’s different. In the production segment, coins are shown with two heads and two tails and then they multiply. You will probably want a table for this one, but it’s good and the offbeat presentation acts somewhat as misdirection to the moves. “Imaginary Coins” employs some devious moves and you’ll learn Menotti’s click pass and vanish, which has a nice “hand-wash” quality to it.

Another break from Menotti’s stand-up act, Pieces of Nothing offers another intriguing close-up coin set. Again, Mennoti dresses this one up with a great premise that a coin and parts of a coin are being hidden by “nothing,” which causes them to vanish. It’s actually a great single coin routine - something of a coin flurry with a premise and reason. At the end, you ring in a cool coin gimmick.

Cards

Based on a Larry Jennings routine, Manetti’s Sync has a spectator placing a card back into the deck and the freely chosen location finds the card’s mate. This is a three-phased effect and the third phase can stand on its own. This one requires a table.

The final effect, the “bonus” trick, is called Shroedinger’s Card. Through a series of mixes that a spectator performs with a deck, a selected card vanishes and is ultimately found in the card box. The title is based on a phenomena in physics known as “Shrodinger’s Cat.” The theme simply provides dressing for an elaborate card effect that features lots of dealing on the part of the spectator.

Insightful Discussions

The second disc features a 35-minute performance by Menotti in front of a live audience that includes his signature effects and presentations - a couple of which are taught on the first disc. Just as on a movie DVD, there’s audio commentary by Menotti where you can learn about the nuances of each effect as well as Menotti’s motivations and thoughts. In an informative interview, Menotti discusses magic theory, foreshadowing, theatrical anchor points, scripting, character development and more.

While I like the effects that Menotti teaches on disc one, it’s his segments on how to approach and perform magic that serious magicians - those who really want to develop their own stage personas and routines - will find particularly useful. This DVD has the potential to assist you in your creative process and the evolution of your own character and act. It’s something of a rarity in the world of magic DVDs.

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