Friday, December 10, 2010

Mad Scientist by Peter Loughran

Hey everybody, Cris Johnson here with more magic & fun!

A few housekkeeping notes...folks continue to sign up for my "Cause & Effects" monthly newsletter. Next month's issue will be a good one as I debunk the narrow-minded belief that many "old school" people have that the "only" way to learn magic is by reading books. I have no problem with reading books, but as soon as a group of people arrogantly say that the only way to do something, well, it bugs me, so the next issue of the ezine will use scientific fact to explain why there is no perfect way for all people to learn. It's going to be great! Sign ups are free by emailing me at

Also, someone who purchased my Clear-View Airborne emailed to let me know that he was able to get it on his carry-on luggage when he flew to a gig. I've never tried it myself as I assumed the good folks at TSA would frown upon the little hook that most Airbornes use. This was indeed good news to me so if you've always wanted to take Airborne on a flight, you can. You can check out my Clear-View Airborne right here:

On to this week's review: It's the Mad Scientist by Peter Loughran. It's available for $350 at Hocus Pocus. Here's the ad copy:

EFFECT: The performer brings out a thin and sleek carrying tray with a large test tube resting on it on one side and a second test tube on the other side but elevated off the tray on its own mini stand. The performer introduces a handkerchief or silk and places it inside one of the test tubes, and explains that he has the ability to change and manipulate the molecules and properties of certain objects and can make them teleport short distances. He will demonstrate his Mad Scientist powers for all to see.

The performer places a large playing card in front of both test tubes and explains that the silk will teleport on his queue from one test tube to the other one that is elevated off the tray with a clear view underneath the thin mini stand. The performer makes a magical gesture and says that the silk has indeed teleported and he will prove it by checking the tubes himself. He looks down and says "Yep it has indeed teleported to the other test tube. But the hard part is to make them go back." He makes a magical gesture and this time removes the cards to show that the silk is back in its original place. The audience screams to see it again but this time they want him to remove the card.

The performer does just this, he throws away one of the cards, and places the other one in front of the test tube containing the silk and then says he will make the silk teleport once again. He then picks up the card but also secretly picks up the silk so it is hidden behind the playing card, and places it in front of the other test tube that is resting on the mini stand. He secretly places the silk into this test tube and immediately removes the card. They audience screams that they know how he did it. This time they want to see done with no cover at all.

The performer obliges but tells his audience that they better not blink or they will miss it. He makes a magical gesture and sure enough this time, the silk VISIBLY vanishes from one tube and INSTANTLY re-appears in the other tube which is isolated off the tray on its own stand. STUNNING VISUAL MAGIC, and a great sucker effect. This illusion is perfect for kids and adults alike. A guaranteed hit at your next show!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: The thin carrying tray that gimmicked up the wa-zoo, two clear tubes, a separate little stand so one tube is elevated, making the teleportation more mystifying, written instructions and 2 identical silks.

QUALITY OF PROPS: The gimmicked tray looks like it's a pain in the rear to put together but happily, it's put together WELL. Peter puts out quality material and this is no different. The plastic tubes are thick and strong and look like you could throw them off a roof. That being said, I wrap mine in cloth to prevent scratches. Great props.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: The written instructions, several pages long, are well-written so the effect is easy to understand. There are some grammatical errors, but I'm sure not the person to pick on Peter for that as my books have their fair share of screw ups! :) My only beef with the instructions is the fact that the size of the text looks to me to be around 9 or maybe 10 pt in size. It's a little tough on my eyes, so that irritated me. That being said, the information and workings is well done overall.

ANGLES: This can be done surrounded, providing no one is looking straight down onto the tray. This is not a close-up trick, but it would work very well for a parlor performance providing the audience is not right o top of you. I did it for 200 kids and it's very visible. My prop came with two purple silks which really isn't as visible as I would like as I wear dark clothes and I'm standing behind the prop. The color of silk varies from set to set, so if you wind up with dark colors, simply swap them out for brighter colors. The silks are not gimmicked, so that's not an issue.

MARKET: To me this is primarily a kids' effect, for young kids up to maybe 8 or 9 years old. It might play great for older kids, but I feel comfortable reserving it for the little ones.

DIFFICULTY OF PERFORMANCE: Although this is close to a "push button" prop, you'll still need to put in some serious rehearsal time. The technical needs of the effect is not great but timing is a bit of an issue as you'll be doing one thing with your right hand and something else with your left and the timing of each must be very smooth for the effect to look as magical as Peter makes it look on his demo video. I'd say the technical needs are basically a 1, but to really make it look magical, I spent about an hour a day for 10 days really smoothing this out.

EFFECT ON AUDIENCE: This really is a stunner. The first time I did it for a group of 200 or so kids, they just sat there, baffled. For the second performance, I altered my script and built up the effect so the kids were expecting it as it happens so fast. After the second show, a repeat client, who had seen my show about two weeks prior, noticed the addition of this effect and specifically sought out to tell me how impossible it was. In short, it got a great response.

MORE THOUGHTS: Peter has great customer service! During rehearsals, I was having trouble with the prop and a few minutes after emailing him, he emailed back with a solution. (Turns out I wasn't setting it up quite right.) I LOVE great customer service!

FINAL VERDICT: What can I say? This plays well for small or large groups, can be done surrounded and is well-made. It's not a show-closer, but I don't think it's meant to be. I'll give this a rock-solid 9.

NEXT WEEK: Bill Abbott's Celebrity Smart Ass! Stay tuned!


Cris Johnson

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