Ian Rowland Lecture
Wessex Magical Association

14th September 2010

Reviewed by David Pennington, President Wessex Magical Association

On the 14th September, Ian Rowland gave a lecture to the Wessex Magical Association, Ian is the author of “Full facts of cold reading” a book that has sold over 20,000 copies all around the world, he has lectured to the Ministry of Defence on how to spot liars, and in August was in the US lecturing to the FBI.

Ian rarely lectures to magic associations and this may be down to the fact that his fee is higher than other lecturer’s, however everything about the lecture marks this out as different. First, it should be noted that, there are no DVDs, lecture notes or effects to purchase, Ian explained why there where no notes and what we could do if this caused us problems. Secondly, this was not just a lecture, but an event, we laughed (a lot), and we were entertained both during the performance of the effects and through the explanations, learnt some of the most incredible effects, and along the way heard some hilarious stories and anecdotes from his travels all around the world. Ian gave us everything, nothing was left out.

I would like to share just a ‘small’ sample of things we saw during the evening. The first effect performed was “no terror”. The spectator was given a huge folded piece of paper, and it was explained that it was either a photo of the Sydney Opera house or a photo of the Statue of Liberty, the spectator was asked to guess which. Before he guessed, Ian upped the ante, and clarified that he already knew 100% what the spectator would choose, and when the spectator chose the Sydney opera house, he stood up unfolded the paper and there was of course a large picture of the Sydney Opera house, Ian was completely correct. We watched as a 50/50 prediction was turned into a performance piece that had the whole audience hanging on every word.

Later we were treated to a performance and explanation of “Thetalia”. Ian borrowed a deck of cards, handed this to a spectator, who then thoroughly shuffled them. The spectator then chose a card (a genuine free choice from the whole deck), Ian produced its mates, then explained it could be improved if he produced a royal flush (which he did), or perhaps if he knew where the rest of the aces where in the deck, which he then produced. We were all invited to watch really closely to ensure everything was fair (which it was).

I have seen similar effects that have taken a life time of study to perform, but very few of these come anywhere as close to Ian’s performance, both in terms of being genuinely entertaining, creative and simplistic in method.

I am not usually a fan of gambling routines, but here is an effect that has a reason for being and doesn’t require much knowledge about gambling for the spectator. To produce four aces, or a royal flush from a shuffled deck looks impressive whether you understand cards or not.

The final effect of the evening was “the golden envelope” the spectator chose a card, the corner of this was ripped off very carefully so everyone could see, and both the corner and card are fully on view at all times, the spectator then takes the corner as a receipt. The card then vanishes and after some really funny and entertaining patter, appears in a truly impossible location. At finger tips, Ian showed us all that the card matched perfectly with the corner. With a room full of magicians, burning his hands and scrutinising every single move, he had us all completely fooled. Everything was done completely fairly, no suspicious or fishy moments. The method was, as we had come to expect, simple, clean, and staring us all in the face.

Ian took time to perform each effect, and then break down every aspect of how it was achieved, why it works, and why a particular method was chosen. If you are new to magic there were items you could perform, and if you are a regular performer there were plenty of effects and tips you could apply to your own act.

So often we hear that “such and such” an effect was worth the price of the book/DVD/lecture, in Ian’s case every effect was worth the price of the lecture, items that could be performed to hundreds of people and others that could be shown to one person at a moments notice. The whole evening was a great success with lots of fun and laughter throughout, the time flew by.

Since Ian’s lecture I have lost count of the number of WMA members that have contacted me to say they thought this was one the best lectures we have had in the history of the WMA. And I completely agree.

I said earlier that this was a lecture that cost more than we usually spend, and if you haven’t got the message already, this was money well spent, I hope by writing a review some magic clubs out there might take the plunge and book Ian, if you do, you will have a great evening, and I would love to attend to be able to enjoy the whole night all over again.

At the end of the evening I had only one question left unanswered “how will we ever be able to follow that?”



© David Pennington, President Wessex Magical Association, September 2010




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