The Online Journal of the Art of Magic
At The Shop
Click here to read the review policy of Visions
"Run-around Sue" DVD by
When I die, I want to be reincarnated as Tim Ellis and for only one reason: so I could get away with what is easily one of the very best versions of the Cups and Balls routine ever crafted.
Big claim, but I can back it up. No, correctly, Tim Ellis can back my claim up for me. He has taken what, at its essence, is a two-cup/one-ball Cups and Balls routine with a final load and turned it into a wonderful, entertaining, and theatrical event. This is truly one routine every performer, everyone who makes their bones day in and day out in front of paying audiences, needs to be versed in.
But wait -- didn't I allude to the fact that only a Tim Ellis can get away with "Run-around Sue"? That the typical card-wrangler and coin-tosser won't be able to get as much -- if anything -- from the routine?
Kinda-sorta, which I can say with all the conviction in my body.
You see, "Run-around Sue" is one of those things that requires too much time and too much money for very few people to even seriously consider undertaking. It's not mind-numbingly difficult -- Ellis keeps things mechanically fairly simple -- but it is of a level of theatrical skill which most hobbyists and more than a few pros will find blood-chilling.
Don't believe me? Check out the requirements to even begin thinking about pulling this off, starting with the altered leather jacket, the performance rights to the music, a table which you'll likely have to work with to use (no off-the-showroom-floor stuff here), two genuine milkshake mixers (those would be the cups), sunglasses, milk, a miniature jukebox, a gimmick here and there... oh, and a tattoo.
Still feel like doing this? Then let's look at the rest of it, starting with strike vanishes, sleeving, and more timing and misdirection pieces than you can shake a stick at, plus more than a hint of rhythm and acting ability. That's why you pretty much have to be Tim Ellis to do Tim Ellis' routine.
Thought that would do it.
And after all of that, I still recommend this disc as highly as I can.
There are three reasons, the first two of which are easy to see and explain. The third is not. I'll do a good job with the first two if you'll cut me slack on the third one. Deal?
The first reason I recommend this is that Ellis teaches more about misdirection and timing here than you'll ever learn from any book. Oh, you may pick it up here and there in the course of your career, but Ellis explains it all so thoroughly, so carefully, you'd be hurting yourself for relying on experience to teach you what Ellis does so beautifully. Ellis managed to teach me things about timing I never would have dreamed of. When I watch it again, I'll learn something else. That education is worth the price and then some.
The second reason is that, in "Run-around Sue", Ellis shows his remarkable skill at making something much bigger than it is. Remember, at it's heart this is just -- yes, I said "just" -- a Cups and Balls routine. But Ellis wraps it into a theme, rolls other magic into that theme which, rather than overpower the audience with one trick after another, pulls them into it and makes it all sensible. And Ellis doesn't content himself with using "that's the way I do it" as an excuse for anything -- he explains why he does everything he does in this routine. Remember way back when, when I wrote an article saying the only difference between the best of us and the rest of us was attention to detail? Apply that here. By paying attention to detail, Ellis makes this an act which is pure theater.
See? Those are the simple ones to cover. And they'll be evident to you when you watch the disc.
Here comes the third one, and it's a toughie. Reason number three why this disc needs to be in your player before you read the last line of this review:
Ellis is a thinker. He thinks and he plays and he colors and he doesn't know about all those lines we're supposed to stay within. He doesn't know we are supposed to end Cups and Balls routines with load after load after load. He doesn't understand that we can't -- simply can't! -- depend on misdirection to make boldness mundane over and over again. He doesn't grasp the concept that subtlety will only get you so far before everything falls apart. He just doesn't get how the world works, for heaven's sake!
That's the real treasure here. Ellis goes so far outside the lines I don't think he could find his way back. I hope he never does, because the results of that travel outside the lines, down paths we seldom think about, is something to see, and digest, and get excited about. The result, in other words, is "Run-around Sue".
But if all of this sounds maudlin to you, oh jaded reader, fear not: Ellis has also included a couple of great bonus pieces. The first is the evolution of "Run-around Sue" (which Ellis describes during the instruction) and it's interesting to watch the routine morph as he performs it over quite a number of months. The second is something so atrocious I groaned, then giggled, then laughed myself silly, a piece of comedic fluff called "D'Cups and D'Balls" which shows Ellis at his goofiest and most satirical.
The meat of this is the routine of "Run-around Sue", and the choicest cuts of that are the thinking of Ellis, and all of that makes this a keeper.
Sue" DVD by Tim Ellis
Quality of Production:
Quality of Instruction:
All content ©2003-2007 The Visions Group
All Rights Reserved. Any duplication without expressed written permission is strictly prohibited.
The views expressed are solely those of the contributors and may not necessarily be those of TVG, its clients, sponsors, or affiliates.