Here's an effect I'd like to see.
The curtain opens after intermission. All the props, the animals, even the magician's assistant are now gone from the stage. A lone spotlight shines on the magician sitting behind a low wooden table with a black tablecloth over it. On the table there are five large, white styrofoam cups that have been numbered 1 to 5 with a thick black marker.
A volunteer is selected from the audience, either randomly or by the magician's choice (like, I mean, the actual choice of the magician). "Sir, please name a number between one and five."
"Two," the man says.
"Are you positive?" asks the magician. "You don't want to change your mind?"
The man shakes his head no. "Oh, you're happy with the mind you have?" the magician quips. A bald man with a fourth-grade education in the second-to-last row finds this hysterical. Some others in the crowd give the magician a pity laugh. Most remain silent.
The magician removes a large, heavy mace from his side and smashes the styrofoam cup to pieces.
"Thank you," he says, smiling broadly. He ask the audience member seated next to the first gentleman to name a number: 1,3,4, or 5.
"Three," he says, holding up three fingers.
"Okay," says the magician. "I will give you five seconds to change your mind. Please, everyone be quiet while this time passes." After an interminably long 5 seconds sitting in silence, the magician asks again. "Have you changed your mind?"
"No, I'll stick with three," the man says.
"Perfect," says the magician as he beats down on cup number three with the heavy, cast-iron, spiked mace. The cup disintegrates under the weight.
"Now, would the woman to his left -- yes, you -- would you name a number 1, 4, or 5?"
"Four," the woman says.
The magician pauses. "Ok... now would you like to change your mind?" The woman doesn't respond. "Would you like to change your mind ma'am? Or should I smash cup number four into oblivion. Is that what you want?" he asks. For a moment the wide smile on his face seems to falter, revealing something lurking just underneath, but the moment passes too quickly to register with the audience.
"Actually..." says the woman. "Let's do number one."
"That's your final decision?" says the magician.
"Yes," she nods.
The magician slams down the mace. Cup number one is obliterated.
"Just two left to go," the magician says. "Would the gentleman to the left of the last volunteer please stand up."
An older man slowly gets up. "Okay," the magician begins, "this is very important. This is very, very important. Sir, please choose either cup number four, or cup number five. Whichever one stands out to you in some way. Cup four. Or cup five."
The old man mumbles something.
"What was that?" asks the magician, impatiently.
"Can I toss a coin?" the man asks.
"Can you...? No. I want you to just choose whichever cup stands out in some way." He looks just off-stage and stops speaking and then inhales deeply. "Okay, sure. You can toss a coin."
The old man reaches into his pocket and removes a coin. As he picks away the lint he says, "Heads is four. Tails is five." He doesn't exactly flip the coin, it more just tumbles out of his hand and falls at his feet.
"What is it?" asks the magician.
"I'm not sure," the man says, squinting down on the coin.
The woman next to him picks it up. "It's tails," she says, "So cup number five."
"Thank you," says the magician, slumping back in his chair. "Oh, thank you." He lifts the mace and a voice calls from the wings of the stage. The magician turns to the voice, nods slightly and turns back to the old man. "Sir, just one last question. Would you like to change your mind?"
The old man lets out a rattle of consideration. The audience sits silently.
"No," he says. "I think I'll stick with cup number five."
"Number five?" the magician says. "Number five?" he says again, slamming the mace down on the cup. "Number five? Number five? Number five?" he keeps repeating -- like an angry mantra -- punctuating the phrase each time with a strike of the spiked ball against the wooden table where cup number five had been.
A few in the audience confusedly being to applaud, but it dies out quickly. The magician appears to be sobbing and the audience is quiet.
After a beat, the magician sits up slightly straighter and begins screaming towards the wings of the stage. "I did it! I did it, you sick fuck! Let her go! And get me the fuck out of here. GET ME OUT OF HERE!"
The magician's assistant walks on stage. She is sweaty and disheveled, her mascara is smeared down her face. She is directing an obliviously happy four-year-old girl on stage. With the same hand that rests on the little girl's back, guiding her, the assistant holds a gleaming chef's knife.
"Daddy!" the girl exclaims.
The magician tells her to run out of the theater and hide somewhere safe. The girl looks at her father, confused. "GO!" he shouts and she runs off.
"I did what you asked," the magician says. "You saw it yourself."
"You did," his assistant nods.
With the point of her knife she gently tips over the final cup.
Beneath the cup -- trussed and tied, pushed up through a hole in the bottom of the low table that rests right above his hips, and out a slit in the tablecloth -- sits the magician's cock and balls. Twine has been wrapped tightly around his testicles and a steel skeleton key -- the key acting as a crossbar, preventing him from retracting himself back through the hole.
"No more boxes?" the woman asks?
"No more boxes," the man agrees.
"No more swords?"
"No more swords."
The assistant deftly flicks her knife, releasing the heavily knotted twine from the man's tourniqueted genitals -- so sweaty and circulation-starved they have taken on the color and luster of an eggplant.
He gingerly zips up his pants and buckles his belt.
The two look at each other.
"For my next trick," the magician begins, then stops himself. "For our next trick we will need you to make your mind a blank. Th-"
"That was quick!" his partner interjects.
The laughter from the bald man in the back echoes through the converted gymnasium.
Shit, I don't know. Four stooges to give you the numbers? Or five holes in the table, and a slit in the tablecloth under each cup so you can poke your dick up under whichever one is left at the end? I don't know. Let's not kid ourselves. You're just going to do bill in lemon anyway.