JASPER MASKELYNE'S MAGIC (1936)

Glasgow Pavilion, Glasgow

That there is a revival of public interest in magic is surely indicated by the fact that Glasgow has had two illusionists of such importance as Goldin and Maskelyne within a few weeks of each other. The Glasgow Pavilion is to be congratulated on securing them both.

The name of Goldin drew the crowds a few weeks ago and that of Maskelyne is doing the same this week.


Maskelyne opens with an excellent ‘production’ sleight. A wooden tray is shown back and front, is covered with a silk and on the latter being withdrawn four large cannon balls are seen to rest on the tray. Chest Illusion. He next shows a ‘perfectly ordinary’ seaman's chest in which a girl is quite definitely enclosed. A platform on four short legs is placed on the lid and Maskelyne stands on the platform letting fall a square of red silk. The silk drapes both himself and the chest on which he stands, and for the few seconds it is in position never flutters. It is seen to fall from the hands—not of Maskelyne but of the girl who is now in Maskelyne’s place. On the chest being opened Maskelyne steps out. Very baffling and very well presented. How he keeps that curtain of silk from moving is beyond me.


His assistant, who is also the victim, is seated on a chair and suffers Maskelyne to produce unlimited eggs from his mouth. The method of getting the eggs from chair back is rather obvious after the first dozen eggs have been palmed. If he did it five or six times he would defy detection. The eggs are also in demand in the copious production from an ‘empty’ box of another dozen or so—one of which (if you believe the assistant) was laid a long time ago.


A sword cabinet though excellent is no novelty in Scotland these days. Every conjurer we see has one.


Probably the most novel illusion he has is ‘The Hanging Bells.’ A dozen or so small bells are suspended on black ribbons in a straight line. Each is carefully detached and put on a tray. One by one they are thrown at the line of tapes. Each bell finds its own tape, hangs itself on, and comes to rest tinkling away—one of the most pleasing illusions imaginable.


The ‘Death Chair,’ an excellent cabinet illusion, in which a woman strapped to a death chair is surrounded by a cabinet and immediately found to be vanished, is next, and this is followed by ‘Swallowing Razor Blades,’ which string themselves on to a piece of cotton broken from a reel in full view—from Maskelyne's mouth.


The finale is the ‘Dizzy Limit,’ which also is excellent but not new. A square of holes tied together with string—in other words, a net, as Maskelyne is at pains to explain— Js folded into a loop to form a kind of improvised hammock. The girl (and after we have seen her riddled with swords and strapped in the death chair without hurt, we have come to expect miracles) gets into the hammock which sways slightly as it hangs in mid-stage and the girl again is no longer with us, her dress fluttering on to the stage being the only proof that she was ever there. Maskelyne's version of this is considerably neater than that of the last I saw at it—Linga Singh.


Source: The World’s Fair, 9 May 1936.