Can any magic completists help me with the following query?
Does anyone have a copy of John Pielmeiers play, Sleight of Hand, performed in the USA in 1988?
I only became aware of the existence of this play via Carlsons analysis of the postmodern comedy thriller.
Pielmeier is better known for writing Agnes of God.
I also have a copy of his recent stage thriller , 'Voices in the Dark'.
But Sleight of Hand appears to have vanished from print. AdAll books doesnt even list it.
Another question: Who worked on the stage illusions?
Here are two relevant extracts from Marvin Carlsons Deathtraps:The PostModern Comedy Thriller(1993):
A particularly elaborate case of a detective entering the "corkscrew" world of the thriller is presented by Sleight of Hand. Early in the play we are given conflicting evidence, both physical and verbal, indicating both that the protagonist Paul, a magician, has and has not killed his assistant, Alice, in a failed magic trick. A "detective" arrives with the news that Alice's body has been found and proceeds to interrogate Paul, but the detective's name, Dancer, strikes Paul as odd, not only because his girl friend is a professional dancer, but because of its odd echo at Christmas, when this play occurs, of one of Santa's reindeer. With all this onomastic foregrounding, the experienced viewer is doubtless expected to be suspicious of Dancer, quite possibly associating him with the memorable Detective Doppler in Sleuth who similarly arrives to question the protagonist about an ambiguous murder and who is revealed at last to be the presumed victim in disguise.
Paul becomes increasingly suspicious about the "real" identity of his guest, especially after Dancer draws a gun and becomes both more threatening and more irrational. "You're not a policeman, are you? Who are you?" challenges Paul, echoing the confusion of the audience. Dancer seems intent on some sadistic revenge for Alice's death, but his motivation and his relationship to her remain unclear. Trickery, disguise, theatrical turns, and imitation deaths mark the evening-long struggle between Dancer and Paul. The identity of Dancer remains unclear. For a time it seems he might be Alice's brother intent on avenging her death, a role highly appropriate to traditional drama. Later, he seems to be the new lover of Paul's girl friend, Sharon, at work to remove a romantic rival, a role often encountered in comedy thrillers. Not until the end of the play is the truth revealed. He really is a detective, and all the play's illusions and misdirections were set up, with Sharon's help, to trick Paul into admitting that he had indeed murdered Alice. "You should have believed the first thing I told you," "Dancer" observes, illustrating a point, made several times in the play, that the ultimate trick is no trick at all. In the subversive world of the comedy thriller, where the audience expects a norm of trickery, truth itself can be used to mislead, since it will be taken to be illusion. In this rare example of a detective achieving a fairly conventional triumph over a murderer, the means are totally unconventional. There is no careful interrogation, no examination of clues, no logical construction of the death event; the detective has triumphed only because he was willing to enter the murderer's world of disguise and misdirection and beat him at his own game. A similar situation may be seen in An Act of the Imagination, where Sergeant Burchitt exposes the murderer by engaging in just the sort of theatricalized illusions normally employed by the murderous protagonists in this genrestaging a false death with blanks and even rigging a special wall panel to provide a suitable bloody background for the false event.
Although Sleight of Hand is the only play here considered with a magician as protagonist, it is clear that the magician, as a performer, has a very useful affinity to the murderer in a comedy thriller and, by extension, to the author of such a work. Disguise, illusion, misdirection, and mystification are the stock-in-trade of all three. The relationship between the dynamics of the magic show and the thriller we are watching is constantly suggested, even if never openly stated, from the first line, delivered by Paul in an isolated spot: "I'm a conjurer ... I deal in illusions," to "Dancer's" final line, "no more tricks, the show's over. "