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Party Animal (2 DVD Set) Review

Official Review

June 27th, 2008 10:41am
Reviewed by James Sanden
Matthew J. Dowden is a British close-up magician who has released a 2 disk DVD set of practical, commercial magic. The set contains 18 effects, as well as 4 separate, in depth explanations of useful, flexible sleights used in the routines. At $55, there is a lot of magic for the money here, and much of it is good, interesting and novel in approach.

The performances were done for a real world audience in a bar, which Mr. Dowden is to be applauded for. It allows the viewer to see how well the material plays and how he handles spectator’s varying reactions to his routines. This approach also showcases the fact that while some of the routines require a small surface, most are self-contained and can be done while standing, which is perfect for the walk-around performer. My only regret is that Mr. Dowden didn’t touch on both the really strong and the unsuccessful moments of the performances during his explanations. I think including commentary on “real world” performances provides an opportunity to learn lessons few other mediums can provide.

Routines on this DVD range from practical, interesting takes on classic plots (card to pocket, a signature transposition, Anniversary Waltz and the Chicago Opener) to ideas and routines I haven’t seen before (combining card at any number with card under glass, card out of wallet, and a very visual shrinking card.) Most of the routines are done with cards, but he also teaches a fairly standard one coin routine including a watch steal. You can see by the type of plots that Mr. Dowden uses that he picks strong, easy to follow material. Two of my personal favorites were a version of Vernon’s Out of Sight, Out of Mind and a fun, interesting two card revelation that concludes with a deck vanish.

The explanations were complete, clear and straightforward, though they could have included a bit more detail, the “work” if you will. I also appreciated the fact that the explanations for the more complex sleights were in a section by themselves, a structure that certainly aids in the learning of the moves.

This is a solid collection of routines with little or no filler. While you probably won’t be inspired or intrigued by Mr. Dowden’s presentations or approach to performance, his material is powerful and can be performed anywhere. For close-up performers working in the trenches, looking for effects for a “real-world” audience, you’ll find a number of effective routines in this DVD set.
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Product info for Party Animal (2 DVD Set)

Author: Matthew J. Dowden
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $54.95
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Manufacturer's Description:

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Matthew is a professional Close up Magician and on his debut DVD you will experience some of his LIVE work. There is NO audience setup and NO fake reactions, just the real work in a real world setting.

All the routines explained on this DVD have been audience tested over hundreds of performances. The handling of each effect has been honed to perfection and each one has been geared for maximum entertainment value and quick, visual impact!

SHRINKAGE is an instant, eye-popping transformation. A selected card visually shrinks in mid air right in front of your spectator's eyes!

CARD TO ANYWHERE is an ingenious method of vanishing a selected card to have it appear literally ANYWHERE! Card thru window, card in bottle, card to shoe let your imagination run wild!

CARD TO ANY NUMBER gets straight to the point. It is a very workable version of a classic that you will perform at EVERY opportunity!

WALK AROUND WALTZ is Matthew's handling for the classic Anniversary Waltz which has been carefully reworked for the walk around performer. It's extremely direct and more importantly all done in the hands!

EASY DECK VANISH does exactly what it says on the tin! It's the ideal trick to end on that is quick, easy and leaves them wanting more!

REPEAT CARD TO MOUTH is a multi-phased routine based on the popular classic. The harder they try to catch it the less chance they have; then you hit them with a knockout ending!

X MARKS THE SPOT is a fantastic presentational idea for a classic routine that you will always perform when they ask that inevitable question: "Can you tell me how you do it?"

Learn all of this and more on this incredible two-disc set! Also includes: MST, SOLE SELECTION, TWO PERSON THOUGHT OF CARD, CARDS TO POCKET, MINI ME, THE TIME MACHINE and much, much more including a bonus section featuring Matthew's routines & technique for stealing watches!

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