The Essence by Tony Griffith
Reviewed by Paul MacLeavy
Essence ~ Relating to the most important characteristics or ideas of something
(or, in this case. someone). Cambridge English Dictionary.
Tony Griffith is a name that is well known among magicians throughout the UK, the USA and across the world. He has lectured extensively in Britain, North America and elsewhere, devised numerous tricks and routines, contributed articles for many magic magazines, and written books on close-up, cards and children s magic. He has been a full time professional magician for the last 34 years.
Thirteen years ago Tony decided to publish his ideas and routines for the benefit of the magical fraternity and produced four publications, namely Reflections, Further Reflections, Final Reflections and Ultimate Reflections. Within these four books is a wealth of material, all practical and entertaining routines that he uses in his professional shows. Combined, the books contain 444 pages of useable, very commercial magic. You could do far worse than buy all four books, which would keep you occupied and entertained throughout any lengthy pandemic lockdown situation.
However, should you want to just buy one book rather than all four, which should it be? Here is the solution. The Essence, as its definition implies, is the best of. In this 139 page plastic comb bound book Tony has included his favourite and most popular routines. The highlights for me are his ring and rope routines, the card in the mousetrap and the automatic lie detector trick.
Tony places more importance on subtlety, routining and entertainment rather than pure sleight of hand. This philosophy is well illustrated in the chapter on the use of the thick card and its benefit of eliminating the need to perform the pass to bring a selected card to the top of the pack. Tony also widely uses the Si Stebbins system, and the book includes five very strong and baffling routines using the system. All five routines are reputation makers yet easy to perform.
Do you have a Rainbow Deck (all 52 cards have completely different back designs) but don't know what to do with it? Rainbow Surprise on page 83 could be the answer. It's a baffling card trick with the added benefit of finishing up with a novel pack of cards - a sure and certain talking point for your spectators.
The Essence is not a new hot off the press publication just arrived on the market. It was first put out in 2012. However, repeated performances will highlight changes and adjustments that can be made to improve the presentation and effect of a trick. Over the ensuing eight years since the first publication Tony has made a number of refinements to many of the tricks and routines. The Becton Cards trick is very different in this book from the one I purchased from Tony in the 1980s! This 2020 publication includes many improvements and revisions to the routines, and enhancements to the layout and production of the book.
This is most probably Tony's last book on his creative magic and, in my opinion, the best. Is it value for money? Without a doubt! There are 31 tricks so at £30 it works out at less than £1 per trick. But there is so much more.
Obtainable from Tony's website www.tonygriffith.co.uk. Highly recommended.
© Paul MacLeavy, June 2020