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Review of "Harlan Escape Artist Show" by Dan Harlan

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating


Review of

"Harlan Escape Artist Show" by Dan Harlan

Murphy's Magic
Here’s another title in Dan Harlan’s excellent “Packs Small Plays Big” line of DVDs. The premise with these discs is that Harlan performs and then teaches an entire stand-up show that fits into a single briefcase.

Great Escape

As the title implies, this DVD offers an escape-themed show where the magician is able to seemingly escape from a series of restraints. I enjoyed the wide variety of effects, plots and methods that will entertain a variety of spectators from young to old.

Another consideration, the props, which consists mainly of ropes and small restraints, do fit into a single case. With this DVD you’re free to select routines that may work for your own show (an escape can add variety to a magic show) or create an entire escape-themed act of your own.

The show begins and warms up with Knot Tied, a demonstration of knot releases. Harlan instantly ties a length of rope around his wrist. In the second phase, two lengths of rope that are tightly tied together a couple of times seemingly melt apart.

Off the Cuffs

The next segment features Thumb Cuffs - specialized cuffs that bind the thumbs and not the wrists of the restrained individual. Harlan has his hands fastened together by spectators with two pairs of thumb cuffs. This one features the built-in comedy where the magician continually escapes but can show that he is still locked in. At the end, the two assisting spectators are bound together with the cuffs. Of note, one of the restraints is a dealer item. In Hostage, Hanlan’s hands are bound to his legs while in a sitting position and he somehow manages to quickly free himself.

In Jacket Off, two ropes are threaded through the sleeves of a borrowed jacket and the ropes are held by two spectators. At the end, the jacket is released from the ropes unharmed. Free Time offers a fast escape from metal shackles and padlocks. This relies on a well known magic prop that’s a dealer item and Harlan teaches you how to make your own for around $20. While Harlan doesn’t milk this one for all its worth in his presentation, this one can easily employ the humor that’s used in the earlier “Thumb Cuff” routine.

In the entertaining Thumb Tie Harlan's thumbs are tightly tied together with two shoelaces by a spectator, yet solid metal rings can pass through the tied thumbs and onto the arms. For the climax, the thumbs pass through the spectator's locked arms. At then end, the spectator has to cut off the shoelaces. This is a great take on a classic.

Pulling Through

The spectator is the star in Pull Through. Here, Two lengths of ribbon are threaded through rings and passed around a volunteer's waist. At the end, the ropes are apparently pulled completely through the volunteer by two more spectators. In Dire Straights, the penultimate effect, Harlan escapes from a regulation strait jacket. This routine could work as a closer but Harlan chooses to end the act with with Escape King. Here, a signed playing card is released from a ribbon. This penetration effect is really good. The card and ribbon are given away as souvenirs.

The routines vary in difficulty but none are hard to learn and perform. With his “Escape Artist Show” DVD, Dan Harlan accomplishes both of his goals. He performs and teaches an excellent act that features a variety of escapes. And the act can indeed fit into a single case and thus “pack small and play big” (although the strait jacket is a bit bulky and the largest item). If you’ve been wanting to add an escape to your act, you’ll find some great ideas here.

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