Douglas Merrick
The Magic Tavern, Barons Court

Monday 16th February

Reviewed by Anthony Jacquin


In the intimacy of the textbook firetrap that is The Magic Tavern at Barons Court, a small audience were treated to an awesome display of what was billed as a bright thinker with a fresh take on mind reading. Douglas Merrick, 21, on his debut performance stunned the audience and left one member of the crowd visibly shaken by the experience.

Following a performance of card and rope magic from Jim Bannan, delivered in a Tommy Cockles Music Hall style, no one could have expected what would happen next when Merrick took stage. He walked on mumbling and twitching as if voices, numbers and playing cards were already flowing through his mind and only started to look comfortable when he had a deck of cards in his hand which he casually shuffled. An audience member was asked to take the deck, mix it to his hearts content then without looking or showing the audience take two cards and put one in each pocket. Merrick then encouraged the audience member to have a go at reading his own mind and he came damn close. Douglas revelaed how close as he named each card prior to them being revealed as correct. Anyone slumbering in the crowd sat up a little at this point.

Douglas them proceeded with a further demonstration of his skills by calling another audience member to take an unopened pack and shuffle them while Doug sat with his back to proceedings blindfolded. Just to make things difficult for himself and by design or accident, no onje knows, he picked an audience member who was not just inept but also a clutz. Tension built as the spectator first decided to open the pack by tearing the box in two. He then ignored Douglas's request to remove the Jokers and product cards. A free count by the spectator into the deck allowed Douglas to divine first the suit, another card was pulled and this time the number was called. After getting a feel for the pack, Douglas decided to go further only to hear the audience cringe as the spectator dropped the pack on the floor. After reassembing and the audience settling, another number was chosen and this time yes the spectator pulled the Joker. He cringed. The audience cringed. Douglas seemed thrown, confused. As he stated he had never known a joker turn up in a casino. The joker disgarded another selection was this time predicted. The audience looked visibly relieved and in need of a drink. No one was quite sure what they had just witnessed other than brain straining mind reading.

If a display of how to combine cards and mind reading was required this was it. Back to basics mind reading with a fresh twist - Douglas Merrick is a name to watch out for.

Anthony Jacquin, February 2004