This is one of three pamphlets which explain, with painstaking care, the silk handkerchief, cigarette, and rope "routines" for which Keith Clark is so well and favorably known in the vaudeville and night-club fields. We have already reviewed with enthusiasm (in Reviews Nos.9 and 31, respectively) his Silks Supreme and Celebrated Cigarettes, and can say of Rope Royale that it resembles those two pamphlets not only in its general make-up, but also in the skill with which the author imparts to the reader every detail in both the preparation for and the actual presentation of the routine. "Perfection is no little thing, but little things perfection make" reads a quotation on page 4 of this booklet; and it is clear that Mr. Clark (or whoever did the actual writing) kept this thought steadfastly in mind throughout the preparation of this explanation.
The trick, as seen by the audience, is described by the author in these words:
"The performer introduces a piece of rope and a pair of scissors. Elevating the right leg, he lays the rope over his knee and snips off about a third of it; then the longer piece is measured over the knee and cut in half. Without any 'counting' moves or exaggerated show of 'proving' that the rope has been cut into pieces, the pieces are straightway tied together. The knotted rope is looped into the left hand, and several rope ends can be seen up to the instant the rope is dropped. There is no business of coiling the rope into the hand and sliding off a fake knot; the right hand holding the scissors makes a cabalistic sign over the rope in the left hand; the left fingers, retaining one end of the rope, allow the loops to drop away, and the rope is seen to be completely restored - the knots have vanished, and the performer tugs on the rope, testing every foot of it, showing it is whole again! ...
"The performer bows, gathers the rope into loops in the right hand, then, retaining one end in the right fingers, drops the loops with a snap - and five or six knots have appeared, tied at intervals along the rope! ... The performer counts the knots, opening them a little as he counts, and, having gathered them into the right hand, snaps the rope from that hand and the knots dissolve!"
The explanation given in Rope Royale tells how to get precisely this effect. It makes everything so clear that it seems incredible that anyone could fail to master the routine if he is willing to give it a moderate amount of practice. For good measure, the author includes a feat called Patriotic Rope Royale, in which the performer cuts and restores a red-white-and-blue rope. There are 14 pages of text in all, edited by the capable John Braun and illustrated with 34 excellent drawings by Nelson Hahne. Whether Harold Rice, the publisher, had a part in the writing we do not know; but he must at least be credited in this, as in each of his recent publications, with turning out an exceedingly neat and informative pamphlet, well printed by the offset process, and attractively bound in soft boards.