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Hustle Review

Official Review

August 23rd, 2006 6:10pm
Reviewed by David Parr
This region-free (playable in any country) DVD is divided into two parts. The first is devoted to the show Hustle, a one-man performance starring Peter Wardell, recorded before a live audience in London. (This section is approximately 37 minutes long, so I assume that we are seeing only a portion of the entire performance.) The second is the teaching section, during which Mr. Wardell tips the work on the routines featured in the show.

Hustle, the show, is similar in format to the first half of Ricky Jay & his 52 Assistants in that the key elements are a deck of cards, a felt-covered table, and a man with a tale to tell. The effects performed in the show are likely to be familiar to card magicians: a four ace production, the McDonald's Aces, a multiple-card location, an exposé on the techniques of crooked dealers, and a Three-Card Monte routine. While this material is not ground-breaking, what is most interesting about the performance is Mr. Wardell's demeanor and presentation. He is not an eager-to-please, "aren't I cute and clever" performing monkey. He has a sense of humor, but he is not always going for laughs. During the gambling exposé sequence, Wardell adopts the persona of a gruff old card mechanic with a southern-American twang. I really enjoyed watching this character's interaction with a volunteer assistant from the audience who obviously didn't know much about playing the game of poker.

The performance is not flawless. I have seen this type of material, including some of the same effects, in the hands of more proficient card technicians, most recently Richard Turner. The staging and pace of the show would likely have been improved with more rehearsal. And magician’s guilt is evident in some of the handlings, particularly in a deck switch early on in the show. (Also, by some unlucky twist of fate, the audience seems to be more than a little slow on the uptake.) Nevertheless, Wardell is to be commended for presenting magic as something other than insignificant, flavorless entertainment.

The instructional section of the DVD is less interesting than the performance, but it's functional. Crediting is occasionally a bit iffy, and some knowledge of technique is presumed. Shots that display the moves from different angles would have been helpful. The material itself is an amalgam of methods from card workers such as Ortiz, Jennings, Tamariz, and Scarne. Wardell recommends that viewers seek out the published works of these performers for more ideas. I really wish there was more information here about the process of writing and preparing the show, not just because I find that fascinating, but because I think the information would be of use to other performers.

If you're looking for revolutionary card work, this is probably not the DVD for you. But if you think you might appreciate seeing card magic presented in a more theatrical context than usual, then this may be your cup of tea.
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Product info for Hustle

Author: Peter Wardell
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $45.00
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Manufacturer's Description:


Hustle is a performance piece that looks at magic, fortune telling, card cheating and proposition bets. It ties these together with stories and characters, both real and imagined. Filmed in front of a live audience at a location in London, the performance gives an insight into the world of the one-man show.

For the first time, Peter's live performance has been recorded onto DVD. This is them followed in the studio with a detailed explanation of each routine.

A four ace production leads into a beautiful set-up for the classic McDonalds Aces.

Peter's take on this classic routine.

The Soldiers Prayer Book revisited, this is a 13-card production with meaning and a demonstration of how to make magic more entertaining. A classic lesson in showmanship and presentation.

One of the most unusual Gambling demonstrations you'll see. This routine includes shuffles, cuts, and deals, laced with poker lore.

Three card monte with a torn corner finish. A great theatrical presenation of this street con.

Running Time Approximately 1hr 58min

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