As in all forms of magic, there are different approaches. It is the diversity of ideas which I find most appealing about magic. Mentalism is no different. There is mentalism which relies very heavily on props and then there is the kind, which I find more attractive, which is almost devoid of props. This branch of propless mentalism has grown dramatically over the last few years with new techniques and insights on how people think and respond. Names such as Kenton Knepper, Peter Turner, Marc Elsdon, and Fraser Parker are just a few of the more well-known creators in this field. Because propless mentalism is one of my interests, I am always searching for well thought out and believable premises to use.
I recently discovered a DVD set which is a propless mentalist’s gold mine. Zero Elements by Juan Esteban Varela is a two DVD set produced by Vernet of South America. To be honest, I can see why there has not been much talk about this set. The DVD set is described as “magic with no elements”. First of all, it is really mentalism and not magic and secondly, it should have said props and not elements. Basically, it is propless mentalism. In addition, the DVD set is in Spanish and overdubbed with English. Watching the trailer reminded me of watching an old Godzilla movie. The whole presentation just was not appealing. If I did not get this DVD set at a super discount, I probably would have never considered it. However, now that I watched it I have to say I am duly impressed. There are about a dozen completely propless mentalism routines, of which most of them are very usable and entertaining. The presentations range from divining a thought of card from three different individuals to revealing a precious stone only imagined by the spectator.
So what is not to like? As I said before, the DVD is dubbed over. I sincerely believe if this was put out by an English speaking performer it would have been more appealing. It is difficult to follow along with the English translation running over the Spanish. However, the biggest obstacle is the memory work. I personally enjoy toiling over algorithms and remembering hundreds of word associations and lists, but most people do not. If you were to perform any of these routines, count on weeks of memory work for each one. On top of memorizing the routines, the card routines (although all verbal) require the knowledge of the Mnemonica stack as well. Lastly, although the most minor issue, there is a routine (which was one of my favorites) that requires you to memorize multiple list based on some Spanish words, because the English equivalents will not work. If you can look past these obstacles you may find value in Zero Elements.
To watch the trailer on Zero Elements click here: