Watson2: Watson and the Dark Art of Harry Houdini


Watson2 Houdini
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Two versions to choose from: The Original Version and a Clean Version!

This is the second play in the WATSON Series!

After a string of brutal murders, Watson and Holmes travel to New York on the trail of the killer. The mysterious Harry Houdini seems to know more than he’s telling, but is he friend or foe? Nothing is as it seems in this sequel to the award-winning Watson: The Last Great Tale of the Legendary Sherlock Holmes, as our heroes encounter murder, mystery, magic… and a heartbreak that is almost too much to bear. Don’t worry if your audience hasn’t seen the original Watson— this sequel will catch you up quickly and root you in its unique Holmesian timeline (10 years after Holmes and Watson’s last adventure). From award-winning writer and director Jaime Robledo, another epic mystery.

For the Clean Version click here!


Act I

Watson/Houdini begins in 1904, as our hero and narrator John Watson recalls a foreboding poem that came to him as if from nowhere. Egged on by Doctor Sigmund Freud, Watson begins to tell a dark and deadly tale living inside him struggling to get out. It would not begin with a bang, but with a scream! We are transported to a deadly attack by five thugs on a terrified woman. It will be this murder that propels the story in earnest.

We are transported to London, where we are re-acquainted with Sherlock Holmes and his deductive prowess as he dispels the incorrect notions of scandal monger Langdale Pike. His older brother Mycroft takes him back to Baker Street to make up with Watson after a 10-year estrangement. Mycroft gives them a case to work together: a series of murders taking place in the same fashion, one week apart, with Harry Houdini a person of interest. Another series of murders might be taking place in Coney Island, New York, and the only way to stop it is if the team of Holmes and Watson reunites. In a flashback, Watson receives important yet overbearing advice from Dr. Freud on how to move on from the death of his departed wife Mary, who has been haunting him in dreams and in waking life, telling him “to let go.”

Holmes books passage aboard the RMS Cedric, where the duo collides with Harry Houdini, who always stays one step ahead of them. It is aboard this ship that Watson meets Violet Hunter, a governess on her way to New York as well. Once they've arrived, Watson and Holmes track down Houdini once more (now seemingly in cahoots with Langdale Pike) but are given the slip. Watson’s relationship with Violet grows despite the ever increasing tensions of the case and the wrestling with the apparition of Mary. At a newly uncovered crime scene (again fitting the pattern), Watson vows to press the issue and find out what’s up Houdini’s sleeve.

Act II

The act begins with one of Houdini’s greatest feats, the Upside Down straitjacket escape high above the stage. Watson and Holmes wait for him in his dressing room, questioning him with little success. Houdini worms his way out of the accusations, professing to be moving on to other cities in his tour.

We flashback yet again to Watson’s session with Freud, as Watson confesses he may not be able to manage moving on his relationship with Violet. As he returns to the present, Watson pushes himself away from Violet one last time. Unable to solve the mystery and finish his tale, Watson (on Freud’s advice) emulates Holmes’ deductive methods. He comes to the realization that the murders may have been carried out by Langdale Pike and adherents to a cult that mistook Houdini’s magic as true sorcery. Before he can tell Holmes that information, he is stabbed by Langdale Pike.

Watson awakens in Coney Island’s “Dreamland” park, being led through the many frightening attractions by Langdale Pike. As Watson chases him through a Hall of Mirrors, he begins to disappear and re-appear as Houdini and then back to himself again. Watson grabs ahold of Pike— a mirror passes, and it's Houdini again, who asks Watson about the events of the case, what he remembers, and why he’s been haunted by Mary. Watson comes to the realization that he has died and the mysterious events were just his friends' and loved ones' attempts to help him pass on to the next life through a séance. Watson is reunited with Mary in the afterlife and can now “let go.”


Critic’s Pick! Inventive, clever, bizarre, ambitious!

–LA Weekly


Harry Houdini / Herlihey – Mid-30s–mid-40s. The world’s greatest magician. He is a dark, unsettling presence. Must have a passable Irish brogue (plays a secondary role as Lt. Herlihey). Magic skills are not a requirement, but a magician/escape artist is preferred in the role.

Violet Hunter – Late 20s–mid-30s. A strong-willed governess who captures Watson’s attention and affection.

5 Stagehands – Ages 18–50; 2 male and 3 female; all ethnicities. The ensemble will play a variety of roles, including Bess Houdini, and are the driving force of this physically demanding piece. Movement and dance training are a plus, but not required.

John Watson – Late 30s–mid-40s. The bumbling, porcine sidekick-turned-hero in the first Watson is now a tortured soul in this tale.

Sherlock Holmes – Late 30s–mid-40s. Watson’s brilliant colleague; arrogant and brash. Must be a skilled physical comedian.

Sigmund Freud / Langdale Pike – Late 40s–early 50s. Must have exceptional comedic timing and passable Austrian and High British accents.

Mycroft Holmes – Early 40s. Sherlock Holmes’ older, smarter brother. He is quick-witted, irritable, and a sloppy dresser.

Mary Watson – Late 20s–mid-30s. Watson’s wife. Movement training is a plus. Must sing.

Settings: Various locations in and around London, the docks of Liverpool, the RMS Cedric, and various locations in and around Coney Island.

Performance Royalties for AMATEUR and EDUCATIONAL Groups, please fill out an application for your personalized quote.

Performance Royalties for PROFESSIONAL Theaters will be quoted as a box office percentage, with a minimum guarantee based on ticket prices and theater particulars. Please fill out an application for your personalized quote.

Authorized Materials must be purchased from Stage Rights as a part of your licensing agreement (see Materials).

Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement.

“With its fractured timeline, Robledo's plotting is more ambitious and demanding than the first installment, 2010's Watson: The Last Great Tale of the Legendary Sherlock Holmes, yet offers deeper rewards. He neatly incorporates cinematic conventions, such as showing a murder re-enact itself in slow-motion rewind. Nods to Hitchcock (a runaway carousel, cleverly staged) and Bruce Lee (the hall-of-mirrors sequence) delight, as do numerous pop-culture references.” –Pauline Adamek, LA Weekly (Pick of the Week)

“Sacred Fools' production of Watson and the Dark Art of Harry Houdini is one of those productions that is littered throughout with little surprises and hidden gems… trust me when I say that you want to discover all of those things for yourself. All you need to know going in, is that this is the best piece of theatre I have seen all year … This production is like a magic trick that will keep you enthralled, but instead of being disappointed when the secret is discovered at the end, you love it even more because the only deception employed is your own willingness to overlook the obvious.” –Kat Michaels, Culver City News

“Still, what gives Watson and the Dark Art of Harry Houdini must-see status are its action set-pieces, the kind that have made Indiana Jones and James Bond perennial screen favorites, accomplished here by a combination of imagination, ingenuity, and the inestimable work of… the aforementioned Stagehand … Watson and the Dark Art of Harry Houdini once again proves a crowd-pleaser, one that makes abundantly clear that, with a good deal of imagination, you need but a tiny fraction of what it would cost on the silver screen to make theatrical magic.” –Steven Stanley, Stagescene LA

“Like Coney Island's old Dreamland, writer-director Jaime Robledo doesn't stint on the amusements. The multiple set pieces thrill. For action, there's a a chase through a hall of mirrors and simulations of a careening roller coaster and a Hitchcockian carousel disaster. For disarming displays of characters' skill, there's a shuffleboard game with the ensemble playing the pucks and, at the top, a slo-mo rewind illustrating Sherlock Holmes' explanation of an apparent murder under some mistletoe … All in all, it's a sumptuous experience. Ryan Johnson's original music and the other design elements provide a sense of grand scope despite the limits of space and budget. Robledo and his cast exhibit an outsized desire that wouldn't be out of place beside Houdini on the old boardwalk of Dreamland.” –John Magaril, Curtain Up

Authorized Materials must be purchased from Stage Rights as a part of your licensing agreement. Your materials will be sent to you digitally by your Licensing Representative.

The Authorized Materials/Production Package for Watson and the Dark Art of Harry Houdini are all fulfilled digitally and consist of:

Acting Edition

Stage Manager Script