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The Trick That Can Be Explained by Mark Elsdon

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The Trick That CAN Be Explained

Mark Elsdon
Booklet, 4pp., with gimmicks.
Available from any Murphy’s retailer or dealers contact www.murphysmagic.com
Price: £30.00 

The Mark Elsdon name on a release is an indicator the contents are likely to be both intriguing and neatly routined. One of his traits is to strip an effect back to its components and simplify it to maximise its impact. In the process he can employ means that almost seem too direct and simple and you tend to get comparatively little in the way of props for your money. 

This is a very direct, powerful effect, achieved by simple, natural means and it is a theme he has returned to several times. The performer places a small envelope containing a playing card on the table and never touches it again. A participant takes the deck out of the box and shuffles it. They then cut the deck and the top card is immediately turned over. The deck is turned face up and clearly spread to show that there are no duplicates. When the participant opens the envelope the card matches their selection. As described, all the action takes place in the spectator’s hands.

Most of the variations on this central theme explored by this prolific originator rely upon multiple outs, but here he eliminates the use of alternative outcomes – the card in the envelope is always the selection. 

What we have here is the application of a couple of standard gimmicks to more or less guarantee a favourable outcome. His application of the well known card gimmicks renders the routine all but self-working – although you have to have your wits about you. It’s a simple matter to fake a set of cards yourself if you wish to change the outcome. You add the cards to a normal deck, so you can steal them away at the end to leave yourself with an ordinary deck in play. 

I see this having more in common with the ‘Open Prediction’ precept rather than the ‘The Trick That Can’t Be Explained’. The essence of Vernon’s routine is that it employs a normal deck, eschewing the use of duplicates or gimmicks of any kind. The Professor was an early exponent of utilising a ‘jazz magic’ approach that requires the presenter to be fleet of mind in following random outcomes to engineer a satisfactory outcome. 

Clearly this purist approach has similarly constrained many performers as a succession of notable names have attempted to reduce the level of chance from Vernon’s effect to maximise the likelihood of the desired outcome. In the process they move from ‘outs’ to some form of force – which is what this is in essence, albeit an extremely effective and fair one. 

Instruction is via a paltry four page pamphlet. The explanation is crystal clear, because in truth there is not a great deal to explain. Reset is simple, but is best done out of view. Elsdon points out the option of the prediction in the form of a photo of the card posted on your Twitter feed, Instagram or other social media. Or you can message them at the start and they check the message at the end.

This is a strong piece and if you are no purist you are likely to use this because it really does deliver what it sets out to offer. You might feel a little disappointed in the package that you receive for £30 but you’re paying for the smart thinking.

Review by Bob Gill. Originally published in Magicseen Magazine, issue 89