Edinburgh Fringe 2009
Morgan and West
Venue: Gilded Balloon Teviot
Prepare to be entertained by those masters of illusion, the duo with incredible psychic powers and a penchant for melodrama! With little more than a raised platform and a wobbly table, these two magicians captivate their audience with a range of magic genre leading to a dazzling finale over a delicious cup of tea.
The word bamboozlement conjures up many images including the practice of trickery, deception, cozenage, or the like. There is a sense of innocent charm in the word, a sense of times past when conmen, sometimes thinly disguised as magicians, seemed like lovable old rogues, persuading you to part with coppers as you tried your luck at cards or guessing under which cup the ball was hidden. You never won, but you never felt hard done by.
This sense of old world, Victorian charm is central to Morgan and West’s cleverly staged orchestration of magic, deception and sleight of hand. You know you are being conned, but you can’t work out how. And sometimes you don’t want to, you are just happy to be amazed at the tricks this pair get up to.
Rhys Morgan and Robert West met at Oxford when they were both (allegedly) studying science, one physics, the other chemistry. Forsaking laboratory and test tube for the glamours of Victorian parlour magic, their double act blossomed and plays well to their physical disparities (they resemble Laurel and Hardy in some ways) but there is more to it than that.
There is a clear chemistry between them, the patter is smooth, the jokes suitably melodramatic and their command of a broad range of magical genre impressive and professionally executed. They use what looked like statistical and probability theories to deliver a series of impressive mind reading and number based tricks, all practised on willing volunteers. They are a dab hand at cards too, at word play and at mind reading all of which is mixed up with some impressive physical magic. Tricks come thick and fast, many of them involving participation of members of the audience each of whom was treated with exemplary Victorian politeness and formality, never in danger of being embarrassed, only amazed and entertained.
The final flourish, involving little more than a couple of tea cups and some flashing fingers, was a fitting finale to this fantastical frolic. What a pleasure to see a show fit for all those aged between 9 and 90.