This presentation returns the Kismet principle to its origin as a close-up card trick with photographs replacing the colours used in the earlier routines. The plot subject, “Jack the Ripper”, is a popular one and I have written it in a way that will enable you to play it as gruesomely as you like. Describing if you wish, the horrific injuries inflicted upon each of the women as you show the photographs – be careful though if you go down this route. Some people (women in particular) in your audience may be repelled if you overdo the graphic descriptions – remember, the events were real and the killer’s actions, quite depraved!
There are also opportunities to add a little light comedy, depending on your style.
I hope you like this presentation. Do let me know what you think.
JACK THE RIPPER AND THE VICTIM’S RETURN!
The performer lays out face down, five postcards. He says that on the correspondence side of each card is the name of a killer. He then displays five photographs, which he explains are the five known victims in the infamous ‘Whitechapel Murders’ of 1888. Each one violently and grotesquely slain by the notorious Jack the Ripper!
Members of the audience are invited to indicate which of the murder victims they would like placing on top of the face down postcards – they have complete freedom of choice.
The performer then produces five cards designed to look like gravestones. “These”, he says, “represent the graves of the buried murder victims”. They also are laid down in a horizontal row.
One audience member is designated the role of Detective Inspector in charge of the case and handed a ‘marker’ (model policeman, policeman’s whistle etc.). Having done this, the assistant is given a ‘letter’ supposedly sent in by a spirit medium. The letter contains instructions that the spectator must follow if he wishes to find the killer.
He is invited to number the five gravestones, one through five, beginning from either end. He is then asked to place the marker onto any of the five gravestones.
The instructions indicate that the marker must be moved a number of times, beginning with the number upon which it is first placed (if on grave number four, four moves, grave number one, one move etc.). A ‘move’ consists of the marker travelling in either direction to an adjacent grave.
At the end of the first series of moves, the outer gravestones are removed. The marker must then make one more move, following which the other two gravestones are taken away.
The performer recaps on the situation thus far: Five postcards have been laid face down. No one knows what is on the faces of the postcards.
Photographs of the five deceased victims have been placed upon the backs of each postcard in a totally random order, freely selected by members of the audience.
The volunteer detective had the freedom to number the gravestones from either end and to place his marker on any one.
No one could have known in advance, upon which of the victims the marker would finish.
The performer then turns over the discarded gravestone cards. They each bear the name of one of the victims. As each victim’s grave is discarded, the photograph of that victim is removed from the postcard upon which it has been placed and the postcard is turned over to reveal the killer’s name.
The gravestone upon which the marker stands is now turned over. The name of the victim matches the remaining victim’s photograph. When it is removed; it is found to be on the postcard bearing a drawing and the name of Jack the Ripper!
YOU WILL NEED
Each of which bears a ‘killer’s’ name. My choice would be, Jack the Ripper and then by complete contrast, ‘Earthquake’, ‘Flood’, ‘Hurricane’, ‘Famine’. I feel that the total contrast between Jack and the other four ‘killers’ further highlights the magical effect that has taken place.
Five photographs of the murder victims.
Mary Jane Kelly, Catherine Eddowes, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Mary Ann Nichols. Their names also should be printed on the back of each (You could of course just have blank business cards upon which the names are written. However, the photographs – which can be downloaded from one of the many websites on the subject – would be more effective).
Five Gravestone cards.
Under each of which a victim’s name is written. Again you could use playing cards to represent the gravestones.
A suitable marker.
A policeman’s whistle would be fine.
The letter from the spirit medium.
This will contain the instructions for moving the marker (sample below).
In addition, a Sherlock Holmes type of deerstalker hat for your volunteer to wear & magnifying glass for him to hold could be an amusing optional extra, depending on how you wish to play the presentation.
Suggested letter from the spirit medium.
N.B. This should be handwritten!
I think I can help you to discover the murderer of those poor women.
I am a genuine spirit medium and have previously assisted the police in my home country (Luxembourg) in solving many crimes.
My method may seem strange, but please believe me when I say that my system works. At least give it a try. After all, what have you got to lose?
I want your most handsome and intelligent detective to visit the graveyard where the poor girls are buried. Upon arriving at the row of graves, he must number them, one through five from either end. Having done this, by using his intuition, he must stand upon one of the graves.
Depending on the number upon which he is standing, he should make a similar number of moves (grave to grave in either direction). Having completed his moves, disregard the two extreme graves and then make one more move. The grave upon which he now stands will lead you to your solution. Dig up the grave to reveal the body and you will be directed to the name of the killer!
To conclude the presentation, you could say, "Now if only Ms. Gruber had been asked, perhaps she might have revealed precisely who Jack the Ripper was! 120 years on - people are still speculating!"
End of Routine.
Perhaps for completeness I should add that you will need to note exactly where the 'Jack the Ripper' postcard is placed (a small pencil mark on the back should suffice).
You then observe which photograph is placed on that card and make sure that the matching 'gravestone' card goes in the centre when you lay them down.
As in all of the Kismet presentations, following the directions in the letter, the routine will then resolve itself!