Stage magic is renowned for being one of the most popular types of illusion, alongside close-up and table magic and thanks to an array of escapologists, mentalists and magicians; I think it’s fair to say that the standards for London’s greatest have been set pretty high.
While our favourites have never failed to disappoint, there are a few classic and unique tricks that have gone down in history and will continue to amaze and astonish audiences for years to come. In this blog post, we will be taking a look at a few of the most unusual and unconventional stage tricks to ever be performed.
Table of Death
As you may have guessed from the name of this trick, it involves danger, a table and a whole lot of illusion. Usually performed from behind a curtain, the idea of the trick is that the escapologist has to break free of a set of chains and cuffs before the spikes fall and supposedly kill him. The layout of this trick has varied over the years; sometimes an assistant will let go or cut the rope holding up the spikes or would burn the rope until it can’t support the spikes.
Of course, the illusion of the escapologist is pretty safe; with the spikes attached to a frame that guides them to the table and a mechanism for support and to raise the spikes. Almost always, the table will consist of a variety of holes that allow the spikes fall into the holes easily, causing no harm to the escapologist. Typically speaking, the performer will lie on their back during this trick.
Indian Rope Trick
This trick is thought to have been around during the 19th century, primarily in India and while there are three variants of this illusion, we will just discuss the classic. In this trick, the magician casts a rope into the sky and the assistant, usually a boy, climbs up it. The magician then calls his name and with no reply, appears to grow angry with the child. Picking up a sword or knife, the magician then climbs up the rope and begins arguing with the boy and suddenly limbs begin to fall from the ‘sky’. Once all of the body parts are on the ground, the magician then climbs back down the rope, collects the limbs and pops them in a basket. Alternatively, the magician may cover them with a blanket or cape. Soon after, the boy reappears unharmed and completely restored.
Sands of the Nile
First performed by Doug Henning, this stage illusion isn’t as drastic as the ones before it though it is no less impressive. Henning would stand behind three clear bowls and a collection of coloured sand. He would start by adding ordinary water to one of the bowls and as he began to tell a story, usually about an Egyptian ritual, the water would turn black while he stirred it with his hand. As the story continued, he would place a small amount of each pile of coloured sand into the bowl and then remove them, dry and untouched. As a finale, Henning would once again stir the now black water until it became clear.