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Will, the Witch, and the Watch

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Will, the Witch, and the Watch was a thirty minute magic play by John Nevil Maskelyne which evolved from his short play "The Mystic Freaks of Gyges".[1]

Performed at the Egyptian Hall in 1873, the play is set around an English village jail. It included many sudden appearances, disappearances and transpositions of the various characters all centered around a large cabinet (most likely inspired by the Cabinet of Proteus. A witch cast a spell to allow the sailor, Will, to escape from the jail and but her magic inadvertently creates an ape and pandemonium proceeds. It was very popular and was performed over 10,000 times over the next 30 years.[2][3]

As part of The Fifth Los Angeles Conference on Magic History, John Gaughan researched and built both the cabinet and the trunk in order to present Maskelyne's play "Will , the Witch and the Watch" in 1997. [4]

Kellar rewrote his version as "The Witch, The Sailor and the Enchanted Monkey".


  1. Magic Magazine, December 1997: "Will, the Witch and the Watch..." by Jim Steinmeyer.
  2. The Magic Play by S.H. Sharpe (1976)
  3. Hiding the Elephant By Jim Steinmeyer (2003)