1. Why not make the “Table of Death” on a smaller scale? Have a center pole that your hands go around and are secured. The “table” is above with a burning rope, and would injure your hands when it falls.
2. Larger scale, make a REAL guillotine. Make it tall, say 10 or 12 feet. NOTHING is tricked or faked, and if the blade falls, it will cut your hands off. The stocks are solid and you put your hands through the holes and are then secured with the examined cuffs. Need I say Ian McCall? Hands are covered, you work as the rope burns, then the blade falls you scream, shake, then, S L O W L Y, bring your hands up and run then through your hair.
3. This takes some thinking; but you have a hangman gallows. The rope is around your neck, and goes over to a large weight. A burning rope holds up the weight. It falls, you get hung. Of course you escape.
4. Or, larger scale, the “weight” is a trunk with artist A inside, and artist B is in the hangman knot. Each is trying to escape to save the other. The ending gets interesting as it can be a double exchange, a vanish, or whatever moves you.