by Leslie Melville
Published by Leaping Lizards Magic
Reviewed by Quentin Reynolds
For countless generations, man has told stories not just to entertain or pass the time but also to inspire, teach and pass on information to future generations. The fables of Aesop and the parables of Jesus resonate with us because they relate directly to the human condition.
In olden times good storytellers were held in high regard. In old Ireland, the Seanachaidh, (Gaelic for storyteller), regaled all with tales of ancient lore, brave deeds and great warriors.
Sadly with the advent of movies, radio and TV, this great tradition has almost died out.
But not quite.
Fortunately we in the magic world have in our midst some first class storytellers who mix magic with storytelling. Ed Solomon, Robert Neale, Eugene Burger and ...
Leslie now lives in Blackpool, England but his professional career has taken him all over and in many different guises, or disguises. His CV covers work as entertainments director, cruise ship performer, magician, childrenís entertainer, MC, bizarre magick, storyteller and ghost walk host.
A good story is inherently interesting. A good story told well is riveting. A good story, told well with a touch of magic that does not interfere with the story, but reinforces it, takes the whole performance to an even higher emotional level.
I donít know how good you are at telling stories but Leslieís book will tick the other two boxes providing you with a wealth of great stories with a magical twist.
Unless you are promoting yourself as a storyteller, I donít recommend including more than one or two in a regular magic performance. If you are a storyteller but donít mention that you are a magician, including one or two of Leslieís (magical) presentations will have a powerful effect.
The book is full of solid, practical routines, all with the Melville touch. One beef that Leslie has, and I am in full agreement with him, is with the modern presentation of illusions. Box gets wheeled out, it does what it does and then gets wheeled off, generally taking less than three minutes. Puzzling eye candy with no emotional hook. Leslie offers his thoughts and includes a delightful presentation for the Origami Box.
It is difficult to pick out the Ďplumsí of the book because there is so much usable material. So I will mention a few. The one effect that will probably find its way into more professional repertoires is ĎAnother ...then Another...and Anotherí, Leslieís interpretation of Roy Scottís Repeat Banknote Production. I have seen Leslie perform this and it has a strong effect on laymen.
I draw your attention to Crandallís Six Card Repeat, originally published in Tarbell 6 but largely overlooked. Years back, Goodliffe, editor of Abracadabra magazine pointed out that the effect was killed in Tarbell because the good doctor (Tarbell) didnít have a sense of humour. Leslie gives a full presentation and has added a strong ending.
I could go on mentioning many of the other strong presentations, so I will just tell you that some are for close-up and some for stage or platform. Some are spooky and unsettling, while others are heartwarming and uplifting. None require technical sleight-of-hand skills.
One caveat. Some of the seance type routines can be deeply unsettling and are best suited to an experienced performer.
The appendix at the back has lots of artwork for you to photocopy and use for your presentations.
Between the twenty-four routines there are essays on introducing yourself as a storyteller, structure, and themed shows for schools.
216 pages, letter size paper (almost A4), perfect bound. Illustrated by Bill Thompson and Barrington Powell with a foreword by Jeff McBride. $39.95 Published by and full details at www.leapinglizardsmagic.com/csspages/css_magictales_two.htm
Highly recommended and I also recommend you invest in the first book Magictales as well, if you donít already have it.
© Quentin Reynolds, June 2013