My Favourite Illusions: Stage - The Zig Zag Girl


A little while ago an annoyingly talanted friend of mine, Henri White, put on a wonderful night at the Magic Circle where he interviewed four great magicians. One of the questions was about a magic trick that had made a difference to them and how they had developed as performers. It really was fantastic to hear how these luminaries had been inspired by magic, and at times deeply moving. I don’t remember a longer standing ovation than at the end of the night in that theatre. Then, last Monday, the Magic Circle held their annual magic auction. One of the items that came up was something I remember watching being performed by David Copperfield when I was a child.

Note: Low quality video. Also contains scenes of shocking, 90s astetic.

Created by a magician called Martin Lewis, I certainly wouldn’t say it was the greatest effect I’ve ever seen, but the affection and warmth I felt when that lot was held up hit my like a baby blanket swaddled brick. I’d not once thought of it since starting magic professionally, nor many years before then, but in that place and at that moment, the effect had to be mine!

I just realised how hard it is to make a bidding war sound interesting when there were only three bids and yours were the first and third, but yes, I do now own this and will be performing it here and there, though possibly without the back to back stroking.

As I pawered over my new purchess, it did get me thinking though about that evening at the Circle, listening to those magicians talking, and I started thinking about my favourite tricks. There are a few I could talk about, but I thought that for today I would show my favourite stage illusion, and maybe go into the other tricks I love as an occasional series. So here it is, the Zig Zag Girl, created and performed by the amazing Robert Harbin,

At a time when we’ve now seen people fly on stage, split in half by a giant guillotine, and walk through roaring propellers, why would I pick this illusion? For a start it’s simple and pure. We can understand the effect very easily. There is no need for a chorus line or flash light show to distract or detract. But mostly it’s how ‘fair’ (a word magicians like to use a lot) this trick is. Because I guarantee that if you watch those tricks, you’ll do so from a seat in the theatre. If you’re lucky enough to be a person on stage examining things and keeping an eye, I guarantee that you’ll be doing so from a very specific spot chosen by the magician. But with The Zig Zag Girl not only can an audience member examine it before hand, but they are right next to is as it’s being performed, interacting with the illusion. Even more amazing, this trick can be performed in the round. It doesn’t matter what angle you see this it, it still works! You’ll have heard the phrase ‘Smoke and Mirrors’, but here there are literally none. What you see is what you get, and that is bafflement and joy from a piece of magic that is perfectly crafted.


Paul ReganComment