Review: All Tied Up By Chris Philpott

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All Tied Up begins as a psychological game, veers into an emotional exploration of your spectator, reveals itself as a card trick and then, in a powerful finale, becomes an act of empowerment that your spectator will remember for a long, long time.

The strength of the effect is all in its script, but Chris Philpott (with Steve Valentine) also go into details about the handling for both an impromptu version and one using a gimmicked deck (which you may already own). All the handlings are easy-to-do, so you can concentrate on performance.

Originally printed in Chris’s book, Intimate Mysteries (“A must buy!” – Mark Elsdon“One of the best books I’ve EVER owned!” – Stephen Young“A major contribution to our art!” – Neil Somerville), the effect in this video contains much more details on both handling and presentation.

“Of all the effects I’ve come up with, this is the one I do more than any other. I have fried a room full of knowledgeable magicians with it and done it for friends who became very emotional when it was performed for them. If I have time for just one effect, it’s All Tied Up.– Chris Philpott


All Tied Up is quite an interesting routine. It’s not your standard pick a card and I’ll find it kind of trick. Instead, this dives deeper, giving you avenues to reveal things about your spectator before finally nailing their thought of card. 

I really like this release. In this effect, you bring your spectators on an imaginary journey (which is actually a “personality test” of sorts) and their answers reveal things about them.

What I really like about this is that this “personality test” seems to be tailor made for magicians to perform. This is because during the process of the test itself, the spectator themselves makes a selection of a card unbeknownst to themselves. 

This might not be for everyone, but I personally find it amazing because it leaves so much space for jazzing. I would recommend taking this for a spin and eventually evolving it so that it really becomes a part of you. Once that happens, I think this would be much stronger than it already is. 

Don’t bang it until you try it! It seems really simple, but I believe that the reactions from this would be superb. Much like horoscopes, people are always interested to know more about themselves, and this is really no different, people would want to take part in this simply because they want to know more about themselves.

One potential issue with this is that it might actually be too strong for regular performances. What I mean is that it might be a little too heavy to be done in a regular walk around situation. This might work a little better in casual situations unless you tweak it to be slightly less heavy on the spectators if you want to do it in your regular paid gigs. I believe that this has the potential to illicit really emotional responses from your spectators especially if you throw in some c**d re**ing.

Steve Valentine is featured on this project too and he shares his handling on it. While both handlings are quite different, I think both his and Chris’s version has their own strong points and would be good for different situations. 

There are also multiple live performances of the routine in this project, and I think you will learn quite a bit about how to present this gem from there. On top of all the information you get on this hour plus long video, you also get access to a special group that has more handlings and presentational ideas. 

Difficulty wise, this is extremely easy. I think if you have been doing magic for any amount of time, you should be able to handle this routine. The sleights involved are easy and there is no heat on them as the cards are not a focal point in the routine until the end. There is a version also that is taught that involves no sleight of hand at all, if that is your cup of tea.

Overall, I think this routine is a very cathartic experience for your spectator. It’s quite an emotional piece, so you really have to discern when to use this. I’d say at $14.95, this is worth picking up to learn, because when the right situation presents itself and you do this, I think you will have the ability to really impact lives in a positive way.


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Ning Cai is a Singapore Literature Prize nominated author, who was also long listed for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016. A bestselling writer, she is also recognised for her illusionist/ escapologist stage character Magic Babe Ning, and recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.

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