The Wicks Theme


WHEN my Australian friend, Charles Wicks, described so very many years ago in The Magic Wand his fine " Lost Time " theme, he gave magicians something that is a rarity, namely a short act requiring readily available properties and yet with these properties offering an audience something which meant a little more than their standard presentation. Few magicians (in this country at any rate) seem to have made a feature of it, and yet, especially for those who sometimes are called upon to give a lengthy entertainment, it forms a very worthwhile ten-minute spot. Kenneth Kirk is one performer we associate with the trick, and in the " Abracadaborough " revue at the Circle Jubilee, a mimed version was presented.

In Magic as Hobby a close-up version will be found.

To those who may not be acquainted with the theme it is this.

The performer notes the time by his watch, and then for example cuts a piece of rope noting the time and action on a slate. Milk is poured into a beaker. This too is noted and so are another couple of actions. The slate is placed down writing side away from the audience. Finally the minute hand of the watch is pushed back to the time when the performer commenced these actions, the result being that all the performer's actions are nullified, the rope being found restored and so on. Finally the slate is turned round and it is seen to be just as blank as it was at the beginning.

Quite recently we have used the theme for platform work, trying to get the maximum dramatic effect with the minimum of apparatus and effort and we feel certain that it is something that could well be used by others. This is effect as seen by the audience.

The performer tells of how he had a dream. He will describe what happened. An invisible clock. He gestures towards the centre back of the stage. As he says this a ticking is heard which gets louder so that it forms a background to his speech. The clock strikes ' Three' and going to a table on his right he lifts a handkerchief from a stemmed glass revealing a pack of cards with the ace of spades as the face card. The handkerchief is placed on the table and the cards are removed. They are fanned and all are shown to face the same way. The pack is now cut and one half is turned over and riffle shuffled into the other half. All cards are then shown to be mixed backs and fronts with the ten of hearts (say) as the face card. The cards are replaced in the glass which once again is covered with the handkerchief.

Picking up a slate which rests against the table leg and taking a piece of chalk from his pocket, after taking a look at the imaginary clock he writes, "3.1 Cards." The slate is replaced against the table leg. From the same table he picks up two separate loops of rope. Undoing the knot on one, he passes it through the other, re-tying the knot so that the two loops are entwined. The ropes are laid on the table alongside the glass. Taking the slate again, he looks centre back stage and writes, " 3.3. Ropes."

Moving across to a table on his left, he draws the attention of the audience to two stemmed glasses. In one there is a red handkerchief and in the other a yellow. The red handkerchief is shown to contain a red ball whilst the yellow contains a yellow ball. The red ball is wrapped inside the yellow handkerchief and replaced in one glass. Next the yellow ball is wrapped inside the red handkerchief and returned to the other glass. The slate is taken again and after looking centre backstage, underneath the other writing goes, " 3.5. Colours." The slate is placed down.

Finally attention is called to a stack of four wooden bricks. All look the same, but when they are turned around it is seen that they are numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively. No. 1 is the topmost brick. These bricks are then re-stacked, numbers away from the audience so that No. 4 is at the top and No. 1 at the bottom. On the slate after looking at the imaginary clock is recorded, " 3.7. Numbers." The slate is then placed against the table leg, writing side away from the audience.

Going to the backcloth, the magician apparently pushes back the minute hand of the clock. As this hand would appear to reach ' 3,' three chimes are heard and the ticking stops.

At this moment the stage set looks exactly as it was when the performer commenced. Now he shows the effect of retracking into time. The handkerchief is lifted from the glass and once again the ace of spades faces the audience. The cards are removed and all shown to face the same way. The ropes are picked up and shown to be two separated loops. The yellow handkerchief once more contains the yellow ball and the red too has its mate. The bricks are turned round and once more seen to be stacked in their original order. Finally, the slate is picked up and shown to be as blank as when the presentation commenced.


1. A pack of cards consisting of twenty-six ordinary cards and twenty-six double facers. Fortunately these can now be obtained from British dealers to match standard British packs.

2. Three stemmed glasses. All should be the: same size and capable of accommodating a. pack of cards.

3. Three eighteen-inch silk handkerchiefs. One mauve, one red and one yellow.

4. A set of red and white ropes.

5. Three billiard balls, two yellow and one red.

6. A set of four specially prepared wooden bricks.

The preparation is comparatively simple. The bricks are best solid, though preference goes to the reader and also for their size. Each has a hinged flap so that it looks like the illustration.

The bricks are so made that the complete movement through 180 degrees changes the 1 to a 4, the 2 to a 3, the 3 to a 2 and the 4 to a 1. The handling of the bricks we'll deal with later. The number on the brick proper must be in a reverse position to that on the flap.

7. A specially prepared slate. This slate has a movable flap fitted as shown in the following illustration.

In place of this special slate the more usual type of flap slate could be used but it necessitates losing or adding a flap.

8. A means for reproducing the ticking noise of the clock. A tape recorder is undoubtedly best, the volume control being adjusted according to the phase of the trick. Needless to say someone will be required to work this and also sound three chimes by using a metal gong. Tape recorders are commonplace these days and if the performer has not one of his own a friend will no doubt oblige. In recording the ticking, make certain that a good-sized clock is used. An ordinary dinner gong will give good chimes.

9. A piece of chalk.

10. Two tables.

Preparation. It is assumed that one table which will be called "A" is to go on the performer's right whilst another, " B," is on his left.

On table "A," near the front edge, is placed one of the stemmed glasses. In it is placed the pack of cards, the twenty-six ordinary ones at the front and the double facers at the back. The face card should be the ace of spades. Over the cards and glass is draped the mauve handkerchief.

Just behind the glass are placed the two ropes. They are separate, and each is knotted to form a loop.

On the table " B," at the side nearest to the performer and midway between the front and rear edge, are placed the other stemmed glasses side by side. The yellow ball is placed in the centre of the yellow silk and both are placed in the first glass. Similarly the red ball and silk go into the other glass. The blocks with the numbered flaps covering the numbers on the bricks are stacked into order on the same table. This means that the hinged part of the flap in each case is at the top of the brick. The bricks are turned so that the numbers cannot be seen by the audience.

The slate is next taken and three lines are drawn lengthwise, one covering the flap hinge. The flap is turned and three more lines are drawn so that with the flap flat in either position it looks as shown in the illustration.

The slate is rested on its width against the right hand table when the stage is set. The piece of chalk goes into the right hand pocket with the extra yellow ball.

With the assistant in charge of the tape recorder and the chimes and the tables set upon the stage you are complete and ready for presentation.

Presentation. Phase 1.

With the striking of the clock, the performer lifts the mauve silk from the glass, places it on the table and removes the cards. He fans the pack showing the faces, and noting the point where the double facers meet the ordinary cards, breaks the pack at this point. The front half of the pack is turned over and the cards are riffle shuffled or woven, so that the ace of spades becomes the rear card. Care is taken to leave a double facer at the front. The cards are fanned once more and shown to be mixed. The left hand holds the cards and the right picks up the glass. The pack is then dropped inside. The left hand drapes the handkerchief over the glass and under its cover the glass is turned, bringing the ace of spades to the front and also because of the double faces, making the remaining cards face the same way. The glass is replaced on the table. The performer looks at the imaginary clock, picks up the slate, shows it to be blank apart from the ruled lines, and writes "3.1. Cards." The slate is replaced and the chalk is slipped back into the pocket.

Phase 2.

The dealer's instructions (Unique Magic Studio or Tannen's supply these) make for no difficulty here. Again the recording of the time and ' Ropes.' When the chalk is replaced in the pocket, however, possession of the yellow ball is obtained and it is palmed.

Phase 3.

Keeping the yellow ball palmed, the two silks and balls are removed from the glasses. The red ball is taken and in the action of placing it beneath the yellow handkerchief a standard change is used to leave the palmed yellow ball in its place and the red ball is palmed. Silk and covered ball are then replaced in the glass. Similarly when placing the yellow ball under the red handkerchief this is changed for the red ball. The hand containing the palmed ball once again goes to the pocket for the chalk, ditches the ball and withdrawing the chalk writes the necessary note on the slate.

Phase 4.

The bricks are turned round showing the numbers. The stack is shifted to the left of the table. Taking the brick with the figure 1 on it and taking care that no movement of the flap can take place it is shown that the remaining sides are blank. The block is now held quite naturally as shown in the illustration so that the flap side is covered by the hand.

The performer apparently turns the brick over and places it on the table at the place where the original stack stood. In so doing the flap is allowed to hang by its own weight so that it takes up the position shown in (A). Then as the left

hand goes to take it away and place it upon the table the third finger pushes against the flap bringing it against the underside of the brick (B). The


brick, now with the number 4 on the side furthest from the audience and the blank side of the flap underneath is placed on the table. The same moves are carried out with the remaining bricks. The action is noted upon the slate. When this is placed against the table leg the flap is allowed to swing across so that the slate is now devoid of writing.

The imaginary clock is now adjusted and the ticking stops.

All that remains for the performer is to show that with the retracking of time, everything is as it was before.

Selling and manufacturer's right of changing blocks reserved

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