With this year being the 125th Anniversary of the Whitechapel unpleasantness, I felt a need to invest in something Ripper-related.
Lebanon Circle’s limited edition “Terror of Whitechapel” collects a number of Jack the Ripper effects in one neat package.
I’m not a fan of the limited edition concept because more often than not, you’re not even sure what you’ve purchased until it arrives in the mail! At Lebanon Circle, however, Dan Baines takes great pains (”Dan Baines takes great pains?” Is that a slogan or what?) to let you know everything you’re getting.
In fact, there are features of “The Terror of Whitechapel” which aren’t even described on the website. So I actually received more than I expected. For example, while I knew the set came in a classy, vintage looking wood storage case, I didn’t know that a Whitechapel map, indicating the locations of the 5 murders, lined the inside of the lid. Neat.
Another bonus not mentioned on the website is a hardcover, fully illustrated Jack the Ripper coffee table book which gives a nice overview of the case.
This set provides you with more than enough to provide an evening of paranormal thrills built around Paul Voodini’s “Jack the Ripper Séance.” This is an ungimmicked séance that involves hypnosis and, depending on how suggestible your spectator is, can feature an actual past life regression experience.
Lebanon Circle’s signature effect, “From Hell” is here in its 5th Anniversary form. These are very nice looking, thick cards that seem straight out of the collection of some ghoulish fan of Victorian London. They look nothing like playing cards so there’s little fear that anyone is going to suspect you’re performing a trick. At the end of this effect you can display the photos of the 5 canonical Ripper victims and get ready to perform the séance.
“Abberline’s Conclusion” is actually two effects and gets a lot of audience involvement. In the first effect, 5 female specs metaphorically roam the streets of Whitechapel. While they appear to have some degree of freedom as to where they move on a map grid, they will, unfortunately cross paths with Jack’s accomplice (A-ha, you didn’t know he had an accomplice, did you?). The second effect is a symbolic manhunt where several Ripper suspects are rounded up but one escapes. It is ultimately revealed that the one who got away is Inspector Abberline’s top suspect in the killings. I think these effects are best performed after the seance- as if the spirits are guiding you and your audience to the true identity of the killer. My set came with a large heavy antique key on a chain. This is placed around a spectator’s neck and the key’s teeth are used to secure the prediction until you’re ready to reveal it. Owing to the specific presentation I have in mind, I prefer a suspect other than the one named here but Dan was gracious enough to supply me with a Word document I can customize to suit myself.
As far as séance accesories go, the set come with a couple of options. There is a wineglass and a set of traditional alphabet cards. There is also the “Victorian Penny Séance.” This is a neat little set of props that come in an oblong wooden case. It uses a very classy looking pendulum made from a Victorian penny and you can choose which style of chain and charm it comes with.
You also get some more séance paraphernalia: a black candle, a bottle of purifying salts and a candle holder. The candle holder was the weakest part of this collection as it didn’t look Victorian at all. It seems Dan uses whatever candlestick he happens to have on hand when the order is placed(!). This one looked like a typical candlestick you’d see at a neighbor’s yard sale. I won’t squawk too much, though.
The set also comes with 18 Ripper-related documents, including the infamous “Dear Boss” and “From Hell” letters, the “Saucy Jack” postcard, a Ripper letter sent from Philadelphia (I didn’t know about that one), the front page of a special Ripper edition of The New York Herald, and several police reports.
And, of course, there’s the limited edition certificate of authenticity.