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On" by Marc Oberon
"Bang On", a new effect by Marc Oberon, takes a good theme and delivers a way of doing it, but ultimately fails to bring anything new to the plot except more issues to deal with in a product whose price tag makes them very unwelcome.
The effect can be described quickly. A spectator calls out any card -- there is no force, so "any card" means just that -- and the performer reaches into his pocket and pulls out a wallet. Opening the wallet reveals a black envelope. The performer opens the envelope and pulls out the card freely named by the spectator. Yep, that's neat stuff right there.
In the opening of the DVD instructions, Marc Oberon credits Kenton Knepper's "Kolossal Killer" for the idea, so presumably this is Oberon's answer to the weaknesses of "Kolossal Killer" (Oberon also credits "Kolossal Killer" to Larry Becker, but corrects that with an insert in the packaging). Oberon should have kept the credits coming: the method Oberon uses has been implemented by many, many others. Truthfully, there's nothing new here: pick up a book on the basic props Oberon uses (and, yes, I'm being deliberately sketchy here; I can't even name one of the books titles without entering exposure territory) and you'll probably find this idea discussed.
And it's not a bad idea, let's get that straight right out of the gate. Some pros wouldn't make use of it if it were. The problem is that Oberon brings nothing to the table that hasn't already been served elsewhere except in the order of magnitude of the outs. Which leads to the first, tactical problem with "Bang On".
You are well and truly loaded for bear with this one. Following Oberon's instructions, you're using two pockets for this and, depending on how easy it is for you to get things in and out of those pockets, you may find yourself having to wear something that has more spacious pockets available. Trying to do this in tight pants and without a jacket could be hazardous to your mental health. For some of us, that's a deal-breaker right there.
Then there's the problem of the materials supplied. The quality of the wallet-work is excellent, simply excellent. However, you're going to be putting together a piece of this yourself and, when you do, you'll find that piece doesn't play well with the wallet. There are a couple of things you can do to get them to jibe, but one is not sure-fire and the other will require a trip to a copying machine and some more paper stock. That's too much of a hassle for the price.
The more nagging issue is the cards supplied. Yes, they are gaffed, but they are also have four indices a la Carte Mundi instead of the Bicycle two-indice cards most of us are used to. Normally, this wouldn't be that big a deal -- it's not like they are so remarkably strange spectators shriek "Gaff!" at the top of their ever-lovin' lungs (as if they knew what a gaff was) -- but the single best routine taught in "Bang On" requires a deck of matching cards and now it becomes a big deal. Again, you can get around it, but for the price you shouldn't have to.
I think that's the biggest problem I have with "Bang On": the problems are there and they shouldn't be. Oh, I'm sure the manufacturer would be telling us about cost-points and pricing for this, that, and the other thing, but that's a bait-and-switch. Another $20 on the price tag to fix an issue would have been welcome by ye humble reviewer, among others I'm sure. Through in another ten minutes per unit (and add another $20, just for kicks), and I still would have been satisfied. As it is, the issues remain and they are distasteful.
Then there's the whole documentation thing going on. Oberon's routine is merely scratching the surface of what can be done with this idea. It's extremely straight-forward with no presentational help in sight for what amounts to an easy thing to figure out (partially, if not completely). Experience with the plot yeilds tons of things that can be done to strengthen the effect, make it more entertaining, even iron out the weak parts the theme carries with it. None of this is in evidence here. Oh, sure, there are a couple of variations, but they are minor and, arguably, weak. The one strong routine here, a slick "Premonition" effect, is also not workable or practical for most because of the props required. All in all, the supplied instructions is akin to teaching how to vanish a silk with a thumbtip; yes, it'll work, but there's so much more that can be done and said about it. Again, for the money, there should have, could have, been more than what you get.
Having said all that, "Bang On" does work if you don't mind some stress and strain here and there. The bigger problems, the presentational ones, can be solved by experienced performers, but those with less insight and less creativity will have problems and wonder why they aren't getting the reactions they should get.
My advice? Unless you've got the experience under your belt to really make this one play, and you don't mind the failings and requirements, leave "Bang On" alone.
On" by Marc Oberon
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