This is an explanation of the magic trick known as "Metamorphosis" also known in the industry as the subtrunk1. The magician who will perform this trick claims he can magically change places with his assistant. Then he does just that.

This trick involes:

  • three people,2 usually a male magician and two female assistants
  • a large sack
  • a short piece of thin rope
  • a curtain
  • lockable trunk, big enough for a person to fit into
What you see

It begins with the trunk sitting in the middle of the stage. The magician and his two assistants strut on to the stage and perform a pose for dramatic effect. After a brief moment the magician, with the help of his assistance, opens the trunk and steps into it. He then pulls the sack up over his head and one of the two assistants ties of the end of the sack with the short piece of rope which she produces from insides the trunk. The magician ducks down into the trunk and is locked inside. One of the assistants (usually the most elaborately dressed) steps up onto the trunk and the other passes her the curtain. The curtain is held just above the waist so as to cover all below it. The assistant may dance on the trunk, shaking the curtain for a short moment. The curtain is then tossed/lifted up slightly, so that she cannot be seen. When the curtain drops, the assistant has disappeared and in her place stands the magician. The magician holds the curtain at waist height for a moment at which point he may exclaim to at to the surprise. He drops the curtain and jumps of the trunk.

*Spoiler Alert*

If you do not wish to know the secret behind how this trick is performed, do not read any further.

What you don’t see

The trickery starts as soon as the trunk is closed. The magician wriggles out of the sack through a gaping hole in the bottom. The hole is hidden, as the sack is already in the trunk we never see it in its entirety . Once the curtain is raised, the first assistant stomps on the trunk, giving the magician the cue to climb up though the trapdoor in the top of the trunk. At this point both the magician and the first assistant are standing on top of the trunk, but we can only see the assistant. When the assistant lifts the curtain all the way over her head, she hands it over to the magician. The magician lowers the curtain to his waist, revealing himself and still giving the assistant time to climb down into the trunk. Once she is in, the magician drops the curtain.3While the magician is jumping down from the trunk and unlocking the trunk the first assistant is crawling into the sack through the hole in the bottom of it. At this point, the second assistant and the magician waiting to hear the first assistant kick the side of the trunk, telling them that she is ready for them to open the trunk. If it seems that they are taking ages to get the unlock, the trunk nine out of ten times, something has gone wrong in the trunk and the first assistant needs more time to get into the sack.4 Once the kick is heard, the trunk is opened, the sack is untied and the first assistant steps out of the trunk, having successfully changed places with the magician.

1 The name Subtrunk is short for substitution trunk.
2 Only two people are required, but less experienced magicians may use two assistants.
3 Sometimes you can catch the magician looking down to see if she is in yet.
4 If you look at their mouths, sometimes you can see the magician or the second assistant talking to the first assistant trying to find out what is wrong.

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