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The Treachery of Tricks Review

January 9th, 2013 5:15am
Reviewed by Brian J. Hatcher
When I first saw Francis Menotti perform razor blade swallowing, where he hung a flat-screen TV "X-ray machine" around his neck so that the audience could get an "inside look" on how the trick was done, I knew that he was someone who was a little different. In a good way. This two DVD set gives us an inside look at this unique performer and the performance-tested effects he teaches on this set. The effects can be adapted to just about any style of performance. Menotti teaches four coin effects, two card effects, (included the bonus effect Schrödinger’s Card), and a clever prediction effect with a surprise ending that uses a spectator’s iPhone.

What I found interesting about the first effect Menotti teaches, Vivid, is that it is a risk effect. In other words, it is an effect that has the possibility to go wrong. Most beginning magicians tend to avoid such effects, and with good reason, and most magic DVDs only teach “bulletproof effects”. But what I have discovered from talking to master magicians is that risk effects can play a substantial part in their shows. In the case of Max Maven, he performs nothing but risk effects in his show. Experienced magicians are willing to take the chance using risk effects because of the truly magical moments they can create and because they also have the skills required to recover if the effect doesn’t work out. Menotti teaches how to use risk effects like Vivid with confidence, and that lesson alone is worth the price of the DVD for magicians wanting to take their magic to the next level.

Another standout on the DVD was Invisible Coins, where Menotti teaches a coin vanish that looks very much like a vanish performed with the Raven, but uses only sleight of hand and requires no gaffs. It will take practice to do well, but it will give the magician a beautiful impromptu vanish to add to his repertoire.

As strong as the effects are on the first DVD, the real gem of the set, in my opinion, is the second DVD. On it, Menotti performs an entire 35-minute show from beginning to end. I believe that a big mistake many magicians make starting out is that they don’t watch enough live magic performed by other magicians. What makes this performance so valuable is that it also comes with a commentary track. Once the performance is viewed, it can be reviewed again with Menotti explaining how he put the act together, why he does what he does throughout the show, and how he handled certain situations as they came up throughout the show. During the performance something does, in fact, go terribly wrong, and seeing how Menotti recovers is a valuable lesson to new magicians. The commentary track gives an unprecedented perspective on how a working magician plans and performs a show. Also, there are several interviews where Menotti gives his thoughts on how to come up with new presentations, how to structure magic, and much more. Solid information for the magician.

The biggest asset of this set is that both the explanations and the performance are peppered with Menotti’s thoughts on magic. His philosophy is sound and he shares his understanding of magic in a way that is clear and will help any magician deepen and strengthen his or her magic.

Product info for The Treachery of Tricks

Author: Menotti, Francis
Average Rating:  (4)
Retail Price: $40.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

For the first time ever Francis Menotti has released some of his most coveted secrets on DVD. On this DVD set you will be taken on a journey into the world of meaningful, powerful, and artistic presentations of magic effects. Not only does Francis teach how to perform some of the routines that have made him a feature performer at the Magic Castle but he gives great advice on how to take your own presentations to the next level. You will see Francis perform for a live real world audience and Francis takes you behind the scenes with a very informative audio commentary. If you're looking for effects, you will be pleased. All the effects on The Treachery of Tricks are extremely commercial and will fool magicians and laypeople alike. If you looking for more than just the standard magic DVD then this is it.

This 35 minute performance includes many signature presentations that have never appeared anywhere else. While some of the effects are taught in the tutorial section, this is much more than just a series of tricks; it is a full experience, included to demonstrate how to create a memorable show.

Audio Commentary:
Francis reveals the nuances and motivation of his show.

Menotti shares his thinking on magic theory- call backs, foreshadowing, theatrical anchor points, scripting, & character development.

Taught Tricks:
effects with unique presentations that Menotti uses in his professional working repertoire.
  • vivid- the audience accurately "predicts" the type of coin and its date
  • wyrd- turn predictions on their head, anytime, anywhere
  • pieces of nothing- a completely new premise for coin magic
  • two sides of every coin- a quirky 3 coin routine for any situation
  • imaginary coins- a clean 3 coin vanish with devious new moves
  • sync- cards find their mates, in increasingly more amazing way
"Francis Menotti is a clever, clever man and I will eagerly devour anything that he is willing to share."
- Kevin James

"Francis always has the knack to twist my brain... A pure joy to any creative lover of our Art."
- Gaetan Bloom

"Francis Menotti is the rare performer that knows exactly who he is, and every moment on stage reflects this knowledge... This video is a true treasure."
- Todd Robbins

Running Time Approximately: 171min

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