It is "Apples and Oranges" -- which I've been doing for a year now...it is a bit of a signature piece for me, with a presentation that I am very proud and protective of...
it comes in the first half of the show and is driven by comedy, and is there to build rapport and get the room on my side...it is more about entertainment value than mystery value...though, coincidentally, I had a kid come to a show tonight who had seen me work several months ago...we were talking before the show and i asked him what he liked most from the summer show, and he immediately mentioned "the thing with the bowl of fruit"...so it stood out for somebody
A few thoughts:
-The most important thing for the piece to work is clarity...
-i have tried the routine with both opaque containers (as Mr. Steinmeyer describes in the write-up) and see-through bags...it plays MUCH stronger with see-through bags (and the image of guys on stage holding fishing nets full of fruit is a funny visual)...
-on that note, forget about having the audience choose which net the extra orange goes in and which way it travels -- it is extraneous and makes the plot harder to follow..put the extra orange in the stage right net (stage right is the left side from the audience's perspective, and we read from left to right...so it feels natural for it to travel from the sr net to the sl net...and helps the clarity)
-the "pear" joke, in steinmeyer's presentation, happens at the worst time, because it is when you're establishing the initial condition...and it pulls them out of following what's happening...cut it
-on that note, don't use the word "pair" because -- as you're working with fruit -- they hear "pear" and it confuses the situation....they're thinking: "pear? what about a pear?" and meantime they miss what's happening....in my case I use the word "couple" (though I would GREATLY appreciate it if you found your own word)
-the extra orange ought to start out in a separate container and is brought in after the other fruit is sorted...before introducing the extra orange, reach into one of the nets and take an apple in one hand and an orange in the other and re-state the situation "so, for every apple in the net there is an orange to go with it...but.."
-you do it enough, and you'll screw up alternating the apples and oranges when they go into the net...have an out
-to make it less likely that you'll screw up the alternating of the fruit, marry the action specifically to the script...in my script every time I have an orange in the right hand I use the phrase "a couple"...whenever I have an apple in the right hand I use the phrase "another couple" ... this way i don't have to remember what I just put in...i say the lines and pick up the fruit to match the lines and it happens automatically
so it reads (you do not have my permission to use these specific lines, they're here just for illustration) "those of you who know john know he has a romantic streak, so he makes sure that for every apple, there is an orange to go with it...so we have an apple and an orange...a loving couple....awwww [this is the one time when you have an apple in the right and say "a couple"...it is also where I encourage the audience to "awww" at each couple] ....an orange and an apple...a couple...another couple...a couple...another couple...a cuddling couple...another couple....so for every apple in here, there is an orange to keep it warm at night [this is the restatement I mention above, both of them coming from the same net...an important point]...but nature is cruel...and frankly so is john...so there is one orange that has no apple to go with it...surviving entirely on a diet of jack daniels and chocolate ice cream..."
-after whatever you do to make the magic happen...clearly state what the effect is...in my case I stand on my chair (I'm sitting in the audience at this point) and say "but I sense that there are non-believers among us...there are those here who do not believe that the odd, extra orange vanished from Mike's net [here I point to the net where the orange started] and reappeared in Sam's net [pointing to the net it traveled to]" response to the trick increased tremendously when I started doing this
-clarity is the single most important thing with this piece
Let me add this...this is a strange piece...some people react very viscerally to it as a powerful mystery...others see it as a puzzle...so you have to be careful with how they perceive your attitude toward it...
indicative of this: the first time I performed this was in my living room for my (now ex-)girlfriend...she had seen a lot of magic but her jaw literally dropped and she was stunned...a few hours later she turned to me and said "does it have something to do with math?"
and so you have to be very careful with how you frame this...there are people who see it just as a puzzle, and if you act like you think they should think its an earth-shattering miracle you'll lose some credibility with them [how's that for a confusing sentence from a kid preaching clarity...]...it's also why I think you have to have strong comedy with this piece...so that there is real entertainment value regardless of how they perceive the magic ... and there has to be other stuff in the show that knocks everyone on their asses
I think its very worth doing a trick where the method is all in your words and how well you can set up a false assumption...I've learned a lot about magic from doing it
good luck and let me know if you have any questions (and I'll be doing the trick in the January RST show if you're in the area)