Sankey 1999 and Sankey Very Much (PAL VHS)
Reviewed by Anthony Owen
Amongst the various products for sale during Jay's recent UK lectures were two new video tapes which are now more widely available from magic dealers worldwide. While neither tape could be considered anything close to "broadcast quality" the production is certainly more than balanced by the affordable price and the quality and quantity of the actual performance material. And, to be honest, the bizarrely the "home made" feel of the tapes seems to suit Sankey's off-the-wall performing style, which was well captured recently by his friend David Acer when he said "this guy is pretty weird, but - at the same time - likeable."
Both tapes are full of weird, but likeable close-up and stand-up magic ideas, moves and full blown routines, which Sankey admits are at varying degrees of development. They also cover a wide range of levels of technical difficulty and advance preparation, but I felt almost all the routines hit an impressively high level of intriguing and entertaining "plots."
Sankey 1999 was my favourite of the two tapes featuring 25 items all performed at his kitchen table - with the occasional noise of local children playing and lorries reversing in the background and appropriately outrageous responses from Jay! My favourite items from this tape were: Sweet Surprise - a very nifty sleight-free transposition of sugar and sweetener packets in which the climax occurs in the spectator's hand (a technique to draw a strong reaction which Sankey utilises frequently on this tape - even though most of the time he has nobody to assist him!); Measles - in which a card covered in spots magically gradually spreads its "disease" onto all the other cards in the pack; Splittin' Time - a multiple coin production with a neat climax; Twice as Nice - a very neat repeat card reversal; Extended credit - in which a spectator's credit card is restored, even after they heard it snapped into two pieces; Golden Treasure - in which a marked quarter appears inside an egg isolated in view throughout; Instant Origami - a cute transformation of a small square of paper into an origami hat and the various visual gags from Jay's stand-up repertoire.
For Sankey Very Much, Jay has gained a backdrop (albeit a bedsheet) and the aforementioned David Acer as occasional spectator and camera operator. Most of the material on this tape is more traditional close-up featuring coins and cards in classical plots. There are versions here of an Ace Assembly, Hofzinser's Everywhere and Nowhere, Elmsley's Point of Departure, a Four Coin Production, Larry Jenning's Open Travellers and two Coins Across sequences. My favourites on this tape are Scrambled - a white rubber ball transforms into an egg; Are You Psychic? - in which a spectator freely selects the only three cards in the deck which have been written upon, to form the title and Sugar Rush - which appeared in the July issue of this magazine.
I even enjoyed the material I didn't care for on these tapes, because - as was obvious to anyone who was present at Jay's Circle lecture - I like his sense of humour and I loved his amusing commentary, descriptions and credits. (My favourite being "Possibly the only move Frank Garcia really invented.") If you like neat, ingenious magic and fun plots I think you'll enjoy these tapes too.
Reprinted from The Magic Circular - the magazine of The Magic Circle, with permission of the Editor, Anthony Owen.
© Anthony Owen, August 2000