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Standing Room Only : Volume 1 Review

Official Review

March 29th, 2009 4:58pm
Reviewed by David Acer
“If anyone's missing a wallet, check with the hostess on the way out.”
-- Steve Draun, at the conclusion of his highly interactive parlour act

Steve Draun is well known in the trade as an exponent of unique and original card magic, but unfortunately, not much of that is in evidence on his first of three DVDs with L&L Publishing. Instead, the trilogy debuts with a selection of classic plots, all of which Mr. Draun performs extremely well, but few of which demonstrate any kind of departure from their fundamental roots, either in methodology or presentation. In other words, to use a music analogy, this DVD is basically a collection of cover songs, and given that it was my first opportunity to see Mr. Draun perform, I found that disappointing.

Take the Ring Flight routine, for example. A ring is borrowed, Mr. Draun comments that it's nice, and there is even “room for a stone,” then he holds the ring in his fist, has a spectator grab his wrist, whereupon, with his other hand, he pulls his key case from a back pocket and opens it, showing the ring now hanging among the keys. He opens his other hand and the ring is, of course, gone. That's it. I mean, it's fine for a public show, but for the first L&L lecture DVD ever featuring Steve Draun, kind of meh, right? And that's how I felt after seeing “Ambitious Card,” “$100 Bill Switch,” “Cards Across,” “Color Changing Knives” and “The Vanishing Cigarette” too. They all feel like the routine you “get with the instructions” (as it were), despite a few personal touches here and there.

On the other hand, some of Mr. Draun’s acclaimed ingenuity is in evidence during “3 Card Monte” (even the titles of these tricks indicate an unwillingness to stray from their roots), featuring his excellent closing sequence wherein a paper clip is affixed to the money card, which still manages to transpose in an unexpected manner (and at a surprising time). The routine also includes a stellar opening sequence by Roy Walton during which the three ungaffed cards change (not just change places) repeatedly, all in support of the performer's explanation of the game. Sandwiched between these are two more great sequences by Dai Vernon and John Scarne, rendering this one of the most commercial Three Card Monte routines around. In fact, even with gaffed cards, I think you'd be hard-pressed to surpass it.

This is also a good DVD from which to learn Vernon’s “Symphony of the Rings” (though you can learn it from Vernon himself on Revelations, Volume 4), as taught by someone who has put no small amount of thought into selling the idea that every single one of the six rings can be examined. Conversely, I've always found Slydini's “Knotted Silks” to be one of the more vapid plots in magic, and neither Mr. Draun's flawless performance of it, nor the effusive reaction of the L&L audience convinced me otherwise.

All that said (and for what it's worth), here's my advice for would-be buyers. Where this DVD succeeds is as an introduction to some of magic's more common old-school plots. Where it fails is as an introduction to the magic of Steve Draun. If you're interested in the former (or if you're looking for a great Three Card Monte routine), by all means consider buying Standing Room Only, Volume 1. If you were hoping for the latter, you should direct your attention to Volumes 2 and 3.

David Acer

Available at your favorite Murphy’s Magic dealer

Product info for Standing Room Only : Volume 1

Author: Steve Draun
Publisher: L&L Publishing
Average Rating:  (2)
Retail Price: $34.95
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Manufacturer's Description:

Over the years, Steve Draun has gained a laudable reputation as one of the finest sleight-of-hand experts in the magic underground. By perfecting and re-perfecting his magic, magicians from around the world were invariably fooled, stunned and affected. Back in the day, Steve Draun's work was often discussed in hushed tones. However, as time went on, Draun's focus shifted from fooling the greatest minds in magic to performing for laymen. Now, his vast and varied audiences see only the best of the best of the best.

AMBITIOUS CARD - Anyone can construct an Ambitious Card routine. You just combine a number of different phases. However, constructing a routine that's magical from the instant it starts and builds upwards from there is rarely done. This is one of the best!!

$100 BILL SWITCH - A hilarious presentation which solves many problems - including the clean up!

KNOTTED SILKS - New wrinkles added to Slydini's classic routine, including a surprise Vernon variation.

VANISHING CIGARETTE - A lit cigarette completely and mysteriously vanishes. A super-clean handling that leaves them shaking their heads!

COLOR CHANGING KNIVES - Pocket knives repeatedly change color and then - get this! - are handed out for examination. You'll love the strong finish for this classic - and the fact that it automatically resets!

3 CARD MONTE - A powerful routine that will leave the spectators rubbing their eyes in disbelief! You'll also learn a new and unique ending.

CARDS ACROSS - A thoroughly professional routine with an original handling. You'll also pick up some valuable insights into palming, holding out and adding cards.

RING FLIGHT - The classic Flying Ring plot combined with information on how to construct your own gimmick that will rival anything currently on the market.

LINKING RINGS - Vernon's Symphony of the Rings with the Draun touch. Also discussed is a flaw that occurs when the routine is performed close up to which a very clever solution is offered that reinforces the illusion that all of the rings have been examined.

Running Time Approximately 1Hr 42Min

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