1 OCTOBER 1948, Page 13



International Variety. (London Casino.)

WEARING with resigned embarrassment a red cap and blazer and looking for all the world like a tiny, sad, rather intelligent Cabinet Minister, Marquis the Chimpanzee bicycles (7 on a two-wheeled bicycle," the microphone is careful to point out) round and round the stage. Later he gives a lift to a much smaller ape, allegedly his son. Both, under the casual tutelage of Gene Detroy, are endearing ; they persuade us (almost) to accept them as backward men rather than forward monkeys, so that we find ourselves applauding Marquis for hanging upside-down from an oscillating steel ladder, as though this was an astonishing feat for a chimpanzee. For the rest there are, among other turns, Frakson, a highly ingenious conjuror • Leo Fuld, a loud, Dutch singer ; and Norman Wisdom, one of the less risible of comedians.

But what we are all waiting for is the World's Fastest Hypnotist, the Amazing Ralph Slater, and at last here he is, a pasty, plump little man with the appearance and manner of a transatlantic sales- man. He speaks of England and of Science ; he is keen on both. In his show—say rather, his demonstration—he aims to give us a combination of the London Casino with the Albert Hall ; later he compares it, with more precision, to a prize-fight. He calls for volunteers and there is a determined rush for the stage, where in no time at all some twenty-five citizens—mostly men, mostly of serious aspect—are ranged, sheepish but surprisingly willing martyrs to science, or something. Mr. Slater makes them clasp their hands above their heads, then tells them that they cannot unclasp them. Two can, the others can't. Mr. Slater selects a large man with a red tie, a young hall-porter in a blue suit and a corporal in the Royal Marines, and with a few masterful passes sends them all to sleep, standing up. " I could do this with a hundred people, or a thousand,", he says, "only it would take longer. This is a theatre. You want action." The hall-porter falls heavily to the floor. " That's nothing," says Mr. Slater. The large man with the red tie suddenly wakes up and walks away. A slight rot seems to have set in. Piqued, Mr. Slater selects a London University student and puts him under. The student won't go under. He stays•awake ; everything that Mr. Slater tells him he can't do, he does. " Wacht-hypnosis," explains Mr. Slater. The student grins.

At this stage only the Marine, Casabianca-like, is doing his bit. Pale, erect, with eyes closed, he has maintained this position for over half an hour, and Mr. Slater justly observes that we, unhypnotised, could not have stood thus for more than two or three minutes. Mr. Slater tells the Marine (who meanwhile has embraced a mop in the belief that it is Miss Betty Grable) that when he comes out of his trance a certain sign from the hypnotist will make the seat of his chair seem unbearably hot, and this works wonderfully well, the Marine being compelled again and again to spring to his feet, ruefully rubbing his behind. It does not, however, work with the hall-porter, who has been told that his shoes will bum his feet. They do nothing of the sort, and he has to be put under many times until at last they do. The London University student, too, is finally overcome, but a fifth victim, who took the place of the man with the red tie, woke up and drifted away before anything particularly scientific had happened to him.

Mr. Slater's gifts are remarkable, but his personality is less dis- than, that (say) of Marquis, so that the audience were almost

eqll' pleased when their representatives sturdily refused to succumb to his powers as when, with spectacular results, they did. I think that on the night I was there his difficult and exacting feats went less smoothly than they usually do, and in so far as the prize- fight was a contest between hypnotism and the will-power of the British public, the British public won on points. It was not an