Impossible (play 2015)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
Impossible (2015)

Impossible - The True Story of their Deadly Rivalry is a Scottish play written by Robert Khan and [[Tom Salinsky] and directed by Hannah Eidinow, performed from 5 to 31 august 2015 at Pleasance Dome (Edinburgh, UK), starring Phill Jupitus as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Alan Cox as Harry Houdini.

In 1920, Hungarian-American magician and escape artist Harry Houdini met celebrated British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for the first time. The two men quickly became close associates, however Houdini was troubled by his new friend's passion for mediumship and his fervent belief in life after death. When shown the mediums' miraculous feats, all Houdini could see were the kind of conjuring tricks with which he was all too familiar. The play tells the unlikely, extraordinary and true story of what happened next - a story of spiritualism and seances, friendship and feud, death and regret.




  • Director : Hannah Eidinow
  • Playwrights : Robert Khan, [[Tom Salinsky]
  • Graphic Design : Idil Sukan
  • Lightning : Nicholas Holdridge
  • Costumes : Lex Wood


Houdini: Here, let me show you something.

Houdini pushes up his sleeves and retrieves a small silk handkerchief from his top pocket which he displays both sides of. He pushes the silk into his left fist, waves his right hand over it, then opens his fist to show it empty. Doyle stares with a mixture of astonishment and irritation. Houdini pulls open his breast pocket, reaches in and produces the silk. He regards his friend carefully.

Conan Doyle: And?

Houdini: Aren't you going to ask me how I did it?

Conan Doyle: Oh no. I've learned that lesson quite well, thank you. You may keep the secret of this little deception if it pleases you.

Houdini: Would your bony detective be so incurious, I wonder?

Conan Doyle: I very much doubt that the Mystery of the Missing Silk would make it past my publisher. It's a routine piece of trickery.

Houdini: Then explain it. Consider what you saw - my hands were empty, my sleeves were rolled up. You saw the handkerchief pushed into my fist, saw that it was not concealed in the other hand. And yet when the fist was opened, the handkerchief was gone.

Conan Doyle: The handkerchief is out of my sight at the crucial moment.

Houdini: Would you like to inspect my fist? You won't find a fleshy trapdoor, no matter how hard you look. Here, inspect the silk too.

Conan Doyle: You evidently would not allow me to if it would teach me anything.

Houdini: I'm just trying to say - we can't assume the most implausible solution just because we're faced with a seemingly impossible event.

Conan Doyle: The most implausible solution? Houdini, this is a wonderment to me. How can two men of such keen intelligence come to such wildly differing conclusions?

Houdini: Maybe I know a little more about deception than you do.

Conan Doyle: And maybe that's why you see it everywhere you look. Do you know, I don't much care for your tone.

Houdini: Hey, I wanted to talk about cricket!

Conan Doyle: It saddens me that you persist in this attitude. The evidence for a life after this one is overwhelming. Yet you will not even consider it seriously.

Houdini: I didn't say that. I said that I know how these things can be faked and that the idea that the dead can talk to us seemed implausible. That's all.

Conan Doyle: Very well. If your mind is truly open, let me introduce you to some of the mediums I have encountered. When you witness what they are capable of, perhaps you will see as I do that life-after-death is as real and as solid...

Houdini: As this handkerchief...?

The silk has once again vanished.