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There is a segment of mentalism that is called “bizarre magic”. Almost always it is story based. The stories themselves revolve around the arcane, strange, mystical and paranormal. The background story is the main focus and the magic is used to emphasize the story. Séances are a good example of bizarre magic. The props involved in bizarre magic are typically aged photos, boxes and antique looking paraphernalia which help create the mood and ambiance. I personally have a keen interest in this type of magic because of its use of historical events as springboards for its presentation. The downside to this type of performance is the need for props that typically cost a bit of money because of the labor to produce the needed look. In addition, lots of room and time is needed to present the story.
There has been a movement over the last few years to make bizarre magic a more portable type of performance. Cleverly made and downsized props allow for portability. Coupled with interesting tales this venue has been taken from the heavily curtained, darkened parlors to the streets. Several “bizarrists” such as Jamie Dawes, Jim Critchlow, Dan Baines, and others have been hard at work producing eerie pocket effects for the budding and professional bizarrist.
One of the more popular effects by Jim Critchlow is called “Til Death Do Us Part”. Using photos of married couples, the participant has to intuit which one of the couples there was a tragic event. As you weave the story and “subtly” guide the spectator in the decision making process, they ultimately get a sense of which of the couples were involved in a murder. There is an unusual revelation at the end which heightens the effect. This isn’t an effect for everyone. Storytelling skills as well as a command of various mentalism techniques are a must for this effect to present itself well. If you wanted to try your hand at this type of magic “Til Death Due Us Part” is a perfect starting point. It is low in cost, short in presentation and allows you to hone your mentalism and storytelling skills as well.