NOTE: I published this review around the time of Curtain Call's release (~2011), but thought I would re-post it here because Barrie's work deserves to be remembered and discussed. Unfortunately, it appears to be out of stock upon my quick searches, but if you ever find it, it is a great purchase!
Title: Curtain Call
Creator/Author: Barrie Richardson
Quality of Publication: Since Curtain Call is a Hermetic Press publication, the quality is great! The dust jacket has a very nice, silky feel to it, which I have only felt on one other book in the past, (Sankey Unleashed). The pages inside the book also feel like a higher quality than the paper that was used in Barrie's previous books (Theater of the Mind and Act Two). Also, I should mention that the cover seems to look better in person than it does on a screen.
Writing Style/Clarity of Instruction: One of the aspects that I have always loved about Barrie's writing is that he provides detailed written performances before the explanation, which give you a strong feeling of actually watching the routines in person. His writing is excellent (with Stephen Minch editing, it has to be good!), and he doesn't leave anything out. Also the excellent illustrations by Earle Oakes leave absolutely nothing else to be desired.
(Some of) My Favorite Effects:
Choices Have Consequences: This is a very nice Bank-Night routine that involves three envelopes, three super fair choices, no gimmicks, and a totally hands-off ending. Also, since Barrie has such a gentle performing persona, he doesn't leave any of the volunteers feeling like losers. The way he has structured the routine is very economical, and all of the moves are totally motivated. This would be great opener for your mentalism show!
Mesmer's Pencil: An ungimmicked pencil rises above your hand visibly (becoming light as a feather) and then slowly sinks back down. The spectator is asked to try to pick up the pencil from your open hand, but despite their efforts, the pencil is so heavy that it is impossible to lift! A moment later the pencil returns to its original weight, then becomes heavy yet again, returns back to normal and finally given to the spectator to keep. These are Barrie's improvements, handling tips, and clearer instructions for his "Pencil Pusher" effect from Theater of the Mind. This routine has a gimmick that you can keep with you at all times, and it will never be noticed; it makes for a fantastic, "impromptu," intimate mentalism/hypnosis piece.
All Gone (Living or Dead Test): A number of envelopes contain business cards, all of which have the word "GONE" printed across the back; the spectator writes the name of a living person on the remaining blank card. The spectator eliminates all but one of the sealed envelopes by intuition. Amazingly they have found the "living" card! Also, you divine the thought-of person's name. Barrie has effectively eliminated the morbid feel of other living or dead tests by focusing on the living. I like the two-phase structure of the effect and its super direct method. This can be a nice interlude in your mentalism act.
The Eye of the Target: A spectator thinks of any word, from any page, in an imaginary book. This thought-of word perfectly matches your prediction, which another spectator has been holding the whole time. This spectator then divines the thought-of page number himself! This is nothing short of a mental masterpiece. So many excellent principles combine to make an impenetrable, 10-minute mystery. This is the best book-less book test I have seen. Plus, the set-up literally takes less than 30-seconds, and the "props" fit in your wallet. This could be a feature part of your act, whether it is in a close-up, cabaret, or stage setting.
A Glimpse of Milton: A card is thought-of from a shuffled, borrowed deck that you have never touched. You immediately have the power to divine what their card is at any time. The deck is completely normal, and you do not look through the faces of the cards ever. The gimmick is ingenious and totally invisible. Also, everything is left totally clean at the end. This is extremely deceptive and it would be a great "pure" mind-reading piece to do with a borrowed deck.
Spoo-key: A brass key becomes animated by eerily crawling through your hand, turning around, and then slowly flipping over on your open palm. The key can be immediately handed to a spectator for examination. Barrie recalls a time when he performed this for some villagers in Bhutan and they thought that Barrie was a real wizard! Although you may not get those kind of reactions at your mentalism show, you may get close! This is a real worker that only has a one-time set-up and can be performed almost anywhere, at anytime.
Impromptu Card at Any Number: A card is freely thought-of from a shuffled, borrowed deck. A number from 1-52 is selected and immediately that chosen number of cards is counted off the deck; the card at their number is, of course, the one that they thought-of (and honestly never told you). Although this isn't the "holy grail" that everybody craves, I think it is still a fantastic effect! I love performing this miracle with anybody's borrowed deck of cards without any bit of preparation. The method is super practical, easy, and full-proof. This is an ACAAN-esque effect that you'll actually do.
The Happy Peek: A really cool business card peek that allows you to see the entire face of business card, while you are apparently just holding it folded in quarters at your fingertips in full view. The business card is normal, and the set-up only takes about 30 seconds. I love how clear the spectator's writing is to the mentalist while doing this peek.
Double Deception Billet Routine: A spectator thinks of any item from an imaginary catalog and draws it on a slip of paper. You "warm up" by mentally receiving the spectator's lucky number (which they have never told you). Then you finish by sketching out the thought-of image through the spectator's unconscious movements. Based on a billet peek in Barrie's book Act Two, he has fashioned a beautifully structured routine that can be done in almost any environment. Due to a devious subtlety, the spectator will not remember you handling their drawing hardly at all, if any.
The Osmosis Envelope: This prepared envelope can be handled freely by a spectator, and yet anything placed inside can be immediately peeked or stolen out. The envelope takes about 2 minutes to prepare (plus time for some stuff to "settle into place"). The envelope may be reused several times until it wears out, which is great for repeat performances. Barrie includes three basic routines, although this tool can be applied to many different mentalism pieces.
The Click Switch: A clean switch of a billet being held on the clip of a pen cap. This draws inspiration from Sankey's "Paperclipped" switch, but it is a totally different handling. I really like using the pen as a place to isolate the billet away from your hands. The switch is reinforced by a convincing visual and audio illusion.
The Stranger's Trick: The spectator deals cards until they decide to stop. They look at either card they stopped at, and shove it into the center of the deck, wherever they want. The deck is placed in the case and you immediately have the power to divine that card. This requires a gimmicked deck (it is not marked or stacked), but it can be handled by the spectator and most other tricks can be performed with it.
Overall: I just named a selection of my favorites (yes there are more!) from Curtain Call and I really hesitated to not mention the other routines, but I know most people wouldn't take the time to read my many praises for all 33 effects! This may be Barrie's smallest book as far as the number of pages, but I believe the material is almost all top-notch. I feel as though I could pick nearly any effect out of the book and have an effective piece of mentalism to perform. It is evident that Barrie has worked all of these routines in the real-world, and, as a result, the routines are all extremely practical.
Because I truly believe that you will, without a doubt, find multiple effects that you can use in Curtain Call, I highly recommend Barrie's latest work.
My Personal Recommendations: As I mentioned earlier, Barrie has published two other major works before Curtain Call: Theatre of the Mind and Act Two. I would recommend purchasing those before this one, since some of the items Curtain Call are improvements on those previously published effects.