I've recently finished a manuscript called Tubthumping
. It's about scripting magic with the specific goal of "fixing" problems and discrepancies in effect, handling and method. The second item, under the heading: Scripting To Provide Clarity is my handling of and script for Dr. Daley's Last Trick.
Hopefully, the following wont seem too self-serving. Its a snippet of that section of the book.
The problem with transposition effects is that you must ensure that the audience knows where the cards are at the start so that when they change places an effect is perceived. This is complicated by the fact that when you make a big deal of the supposed location of a card the audience, if it is half awake, is likely to become suspicious of why you are pointing out the obvious. Since ideally the change of positions should be both surprising and magical it would be best if we could derail that train of thought or, better still, prevent it from leaving the station, before anyone gets hurt. The script you are about to read doesnt completely fulfill both goals but it does weave an engaging enough story to cause a spectator to miss the all aboard call.
In order to ensure the audience members know what cards are where I thought of changing the red aces for another pair of cards of insignificant value and talking about how a gambler would switch a pair of useless cards for a more valuable pair. That works pretty well. And a gambling theme can always be counted on to generate a small degree of interest among the laity. Then it occurred to me that I should tuck the aces into my sleeve during the presentation (an idea that probably had its genesis in an illustration found in Life, Death & Other Card Tricks by Robert E. Neale). This bit of business serves two purposes:
1. Audience members cant easily grab the cards to check their values during the performance.
2. The audience will have an easy time remembering what cards are where because everyone already knows that gamblers hide aces in their sleeves.
Now that I had a reason for the audience to pay attention (a gambling expose) and a method of ensuring that the audience could remember where the aces were located I was ready to write the script.
So there you have (most of) my solution to the problem of the two-by-two transposition. The script explains why four cards are used and why they are pairs. The handling is as clean as is possible and each card is displayed in the same way with no suspicious actions. The cards are handled so that grabby viewers are controlled and no table is needed.
The only weakness is that an audience member does not hold the cards. I don't consider this a problem. It's a choice made by the script and not the handling, which does allow for that if you choose.
Hope someone finds these ideas useful.