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Morgan and West: Time Travelling Magicians
Published on Monday, 23 August 2010

4 stars

Gilded Balloon Teviot (venue website)
4-29 Aug, 3:45pm (4:45pm)
Reviewed by Richard Stamp

Edinburgh’s favourite Victorian parlour magicians, Rhys Morgan and Rob West, have ridden their time machine back to the Fringe – with a new show that’s light on razzmatazz, but full of amusement and amiable warmth.  Expect mutton-chops, top hats and velvet waistcoats; expect also some moments of wonderment, as they unveil the illusions of their bygone age.  Above all, expect a pleasantly unchallenging, delightfully escapist, and traditionally entertaining hour.

As other magicians tussle to present the most dramatic and most ostentatiously modern act, Morgan and West have the wisdom to rush in the opposite direction – delivering a completely traditional magic show, with heaps of old-world charm.  There’s an inherent humour in the pairing of Morgan (who’s a big lad) with West (who isn’t), and they play up their on-stage friendship to great effect; a well-synchronized and well-planned patter ensures the hour flies by.

The show I attended was a little slow to get going, and the time-machine back-story that explains their presence felt a bit unnecessary at first.  But I was soon won over: it opened the way to give an age-old trick a creative twist, as the magician’s staple of making coins appear and disappear was played forwards and backwards in a sci-fi “temporal loop”.  This act alone justified the time-travel schtick; seeing West’s deft moves repeated made them all the more impressive, and even on the second or third run-through I couldn’t work out quite how they were done.

The instruction manual for the time machine also provides the theme for Morgan and West’s trademark short sketches, the sharp ten-second tricks which slot in between their set-pieces and work well at breaking up the pace.  And I loved their ridiculous Balloon Handcuffs Of Death – it was a comedy number rather than a magic trick, but really, none the worse for that.

It does behove me to say that the magic on show isn’t the most impressive you might see at the Fringe; this is a craft which takes years to develop, and they’re both still quite young.  But it doesn’t really matter.  It’s the duo’s easy likeability which makes this show so great… and I’ll take Morgan and West’s uplifting parlour tricks over any showy pyrotechnics, no matter what era their time machine might land them in.

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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