Draven Reviews: String Theory by Vince Mendoza

not approvedTitle: String Theory
Artist: Vince Mendoza & Eric Jones
Producers: Murphy’s Magic
Retail Price: $34.99 USD
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Length of DVD:  1 hour 30 minutes
Notes:  This will require additional purchase of a specific type of string.  String Theory does include a good amount of this string to get you started.

Includes:

  • Instructional DVD
  • Special String

Features:

  • Play All
  • Chapters

There are certain tricks that I would teach if I were to write a curriculum for a first year student in the art of magic.  These are tricks that embody the fundamental skills that a student would need to master in both sleight of hand, and misdirection, as well as teach performance skills they would need for further advancement in the art.  These tricks would include, but not limited to, the Cups and Balls, the Chop Cup, Sponge Balls, Linking Rings, Ambitious Card, Card to Impossible Location, and of course the Gypsy Thread.  It’s the last one that is of particular interest because it’s what this review is going to focus on, specifically Vince Mendoza’s spin on the subject.

I think I first was introduced to Gypsy Thread via Eugene Burger.  It’s his use of a candle burning the thread so it snaps in two, and the discussion of life and death that drew me in.  Such heavy subjects to discuss!  Yet the master story teller magically blended both life and lesson into such a spell binding experience that left me mesmerized.  Talk about your first impressions!  Since then I’ve seen many other magicians add their own unique spins on the plot.  Tony Clark has his “Gypsy Balloon”, Mike Wong has his “Dragon Thread”, and now Vince Mendoza introduces his sleightless version he’s calling “String Theory”.

String Theory, a name sounding more like it should be about IT work than a Gypsy Thread plot, is an interesting venture into this classic plot in so much as it takes a unique property of certain kinds of string and exploits it for a near slightless handling.  I say near in so much as you’ll need stronger audience management skills than sleight of hand skills.  Vince is joined by sleight of hand super star Eric Jones who often feels like he’s taking over control of the conversation in the tutorial section instead of participating in it.

The effect is self working, and will require some setup pre-show in order to perform it.  Regrettably this is NOT a trick that you’ll be able to do in any situation.  This is certainly not impromptu and though angles aren’t a concern, per says, you won’t want anyone behind the spectator or yourself during your presentation.  This really narrows the field down to where you can perform this, which would be either for parlor shows, small stage work, intimate close up work like where you’re at a table and the audience is seated around you, or the like.  You can’t do this table hopping, and certainly not on the street.  Which I feel the DVD is misleading in that regard because it says on the back “great for strolling”, which it is not.  Strolling environments you can’t always control where people are watching from, and as I’ve pointed out you have certain spots you simply don’t want people looking at.

The DVD is too long for this effect.  There’s dumbing down a subject so it’s easy enough for everyone to learn and then there’s milking it for all its worth.  Eric is obviously a master at teaching a subject and it feels like he’s constantly pulling Vince through the tutorial, almost forcefully in some areas, to explain specific points that Vince doesn’t really touch on that much by himself.  It’s like they had a script but only one of them bothered to read it.  Honestly with the DVD being nearly an hour and a half long I just felt like a lot of this was really needless overkill.

The art direction on the DVD is masterful.  It’s very beautifully put together, scored, and edited.  The post production quality of this product has, and should, set the bar for all future magic DVD releases.

Vince has entered into the magic fraternity a good look at a classic effect.  His method is certainly something a student should consider, but it’s hardly superior to other methods.  Reviewing this DVD has reminded me that sometimes the classics are classic for a reason:  They work!  Even after years of innovention, reinvention, different handlings, and approaches, I still think the classic handling for the Gypsy Thread stands out as the best handling for it, or at the very least far superior to this version.

The price to pay for having a sleightless version of the Gypsy Thread makes this impractical to perform in some situations, and due to the moves required this will not resonate well with other magicians.  This is either going to be one of those methods you’re going to love the second you watch it, or hate thus sending this to rot in the bottom of your magic trunk.  For me it’s the latter.  The old saying really is true:  If it ain’t broke- Don’t fix it.  I think I’ll go back to Eugene’s handling for now.

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Overall Quality.

Product Quality: 4
Functionally, it works.  Practicality though is questionable.  Not suitable for every performance environment.

Teaching Quality: 4
Over taught.  Way over taught.  This should have been a thirty minute (tops) DVD.

Video & Sound Quality: 9
Great sound and Video!

Overall Quality: 3
The Gypsy Thread is a routine you should learn, and by all means perform.  Thankfully you’ve got many other options I’d recommend looking at well before this one.

Have a product you want reviewed?  Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval?  Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews!  Don’t forget to like my blog where all my reviews are posted at www.williamdraven.wordpress.com.

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About William Draven

William Draven is a professional magician and sideshow performer living in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter at WilliamDraven or on facebook at www.facebook.com/thewilliamdraven
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