I spent looking for some places I didn’t find Wednesday, only to discover that they were just off one street that I had missed. I didn’t find anything, anyway, and I was getting a little disappointed at book hunting, too, so I just wandered around the surrounding areas before heading down to the Hammersmith Underground station (quite a ways south-east from me, actually) to find the theater where David Copperfield was performing that night. I was tempted to see a movie, but the only one I was interested in, Braveheart, didn’t open until the following week. I also saw Piccadilly Square again, and the Trocadero, a large amusement arcade, which houses a large Guiness World Records exhibit, and Alien Wars, a 20-minute thrill scenario bases on the movie Aliens that had an advertising booth at WorldCon the previous weekend. I was tempted to try it but decided against it.
I saw David Copperfield that night. This was his 15th anniversary of doing performances, so it was more of a historical retrospective than an original show. He did some of his famous illusions, like the falling saw that breaks down and appears to cut him in half, the walking through the fan illusion, the hanging blade separation, and the most recent one I’ve seen, the haunted room (it was on his most recent TV special).
He also did his floating table illusion. David Copperfield invited about 12–16 people (which included me!) on stage; 8 would surround this octagonal table, which he would then levitate. I got put around the table by his assistant, then was replaced by Copperfield himself with someone else from the people who were standing off to the side. Everyone put their fingertips on the table, and then rose: the table rose with them. Then the table would be made to move around the stage with the people following it. Despite having examined the table and tablecloth, I still don’t have any good ideas on how he pulled the trick off.
Its the same illusion he’s used in his TV performances; in fact, most of the tricks he did were one he has used before. The new one is a flying trick that ends up with him totally enclosed in a clear plexiglass box, yet still flying. I’ve got my suspicions, but nothing definite yet. Some of the other illusions I am pretty sure were done by accomplices from the audience (Penn & Teller more or less spilled the beans on biggest televised illusions, saying they were done with camera tricks and paid volunteers, so plants in the audience is not to be unexpected) but that one is a winner. And at the end of the illusion he takes one of the people from the audience, a petite woman, who had examined the box previous, up with him for a turn about the stage.
Copperfield is an excellent showman and performer, and he always manages to have one or two beautiful women around him. (They’re almost identical looking, which helps out in one of the tricks.) He got two standing ovations and did two encores, both of which were obviously prepared for in advance. The first encore was the flying illusion.
I did the British Museum Thursday afternoon, just to check it out, then went back Friday. I also got in to see the British Library study area, which is separate from the Museum but totally enclosed by same. Admission is by pass only, but a limited number of visitor passes are available for a limited period at the end of the day. The library also had an exhibition on Earth and the Heavens, which is also available on CD-ROM. Lots of terrestrial and astronomical maps. They also had several standing exhibits of famous manuscripts and documents, including a copy of the Magna Carta (complete with royal seal).