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Subterfuge (with DVD) Review

Official Review

November 25th, 2005 11:18am
Reviewed by Gordon Meyer
Subterfuge is an interesting piece of magic, but it's clearly not for everyone. I believe for most magicians it's something they'll greatly enjoy playing with, but I doubt it will become a "worker" (as Michael Close might say) and end up in your regular repertoire.

First, let's cover the positive aspects. In the right circumstances and given the proper performance, this will look like genuine magic. The gimmicks are well made, and the working is quite smooth and practically self-working. Overall, it's a clever arrangement that will make the young magician within you giggle with delight.

Unfortunately, eventually the more seasoned performer in you will emerge and you'll begin to see a few challenges, some of which might relegate Subterfuge to your drawer of promising-but-unused tricks. For example, the trick requires that you wear a ring. You won't be able to substitute another ring unless it has the same properties as the one that that is provided, and let's just say that fine jewelry certainly won't be workable. Secondly, you'll want to be wearing at least one article of clothing that is of a certain color. While it's not required, not doing so would eliminate a major aspect of how Subterfuge works. In the performance video that's included with the trick most of the performances where the magician is not wearing this color take place at night on the street, or in some other dimly-lit setting. Take heed.

Finally, you'll need to provide your own gaffed item that you'll cause to disappear. You get a paperclip to practice with, but clearly it's more effective if you use a coin or some other item that either has, or has been modified to have, a certain property. You might already have a suitable coin in your collection, but if not be prepared to spend another $10 or so getting this into performance-ready condition.

The gimmicks that are supplied are well made, but are perhaps a bit larger than they need to be. The ring, which is available in two sizes, is plain and silver in color. You'll get a single sheet of photo-illustrated instructions that teach you the handling, and a 15-minute DVD that shows the trick in action and offers some advice. The production values of both are mediocre, and the DVD lacks a menu for navigation. It also has severe sound problems. It hasn't been professionally replicated, so it might not work in some DVD players. (It played fine on my computer, but not in a standalone DVD player.) The single-camera (and seemingly single-take) video is a homemade affair, but it's serviceable; the barking dog in the background notwithstanding. Still, for a product in this price range, I expect better.

The DVD consists of several "street style" performances, all set to music, then some discussion and demonstrations of the handling. The presenters are likable and enthusiastic, but on the whole there's a lot left for you to work out for yourself. For example, we're told that there are a hundred different ways to approach the trick, but only two are shown. Later, we are reminded that "it's up to you to find your own ways" when it comes to cleaning up, which is a shame, because this is when your audience will be burning you the hardest; and your success in accomplishing this smoothly will make or break the trick.

The best part of the video is some parting advice from Paul Draper, a Las Vegas casino magician. He urges that this trick must be properly sold and presented--don't do it as a throwaway--to get a good reaction. He has some very nice tips; but unfortunately does not perform the trick for the viewer, so again you'll have to work how to apply his advice for yourself.

The creators' website has a performance video so you can get an idea of what the trick looks like, but be forewarned that what you buy does not include the routines you'll see. For example, it's apparently possible to use Subterfuge to perform a matrix-like effect, as seen in the demo reel, but there's no mention of this in the instructions or DVD. Additionally, once you're privy to the secret, you'll rightly question the in-person performability of some of what the demo video shows, unless you make a habit of performing for one-eyed audiences.

In the end, Subterfuge is very promising, but it feels like it was rushed to market and has not seen very much refinement before varied audiences and performing conditions. Frankly, I don't think many magicians will feel completely satisfied, given the price, but it will make a fun magic club toy. For those who rise to the challenge of working it all out, and don't mind the multiple gimmicks and constraints, they'll have a very visual and appealing effect.

Available at your favorite Murphy’s Magic dealer

Product info for Subterfuge (with DVD)

Author: Kenneth Sanders
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $45.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

Subterfuge is a new visual vanish that uses no pulls, strings, or fishing line. Subterfuge can be preformed in a T-Shirt or with no shirt at all. It has an instant reset that can be done right in front of the spectator. Produce, Vanish, and Re-Produce the item at will. Each Subterfuge comes with an explanation DVD showing you how to accomplish this amazing effect. This effect is available in large (approximately ring size 13) or small ring size (approximately ring size 9.75) please specify when ordering.

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