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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Edinburgh 2011 arrow Morgan & West: Crime Solving Magicians
Morgan & West: Crime Solving Magicians
Published on Friday, 12 August 2011

5 stars

Gilded Balloon Teviot (venue website)
3-16, 18-29 Aug, 3:30pm-4:30pm
Reviewed by Richard Stamp

 Family-friendly. Suitable for all ages.

If you’ve spent any time at the Fringe in the last couple of years, you’ve surely spotted Rhys Morgan and Rob West.  Never seen in public without their full-on Victorian-gentleman garb, their act’s founded on a simple and effective conceit: that they’re real 1800’s parlour magicians, riding to the Fringe on real 1800’s time machine (presumably borrowed from H G Wells).  But as the title suggests, this year they’ve a mission to fulfil… stopping a dastardly double murder, which their travels to the future have revealed.  And the victims of this heinous crime?  Why, it’s Morgan and West themselves.


You can catch up with the back-story in this magnificent YouTube video, but they don’t actually go into much detail on stage – which is fine, because it leaves plenty of time for their natural personalities to shine though.  Morgan and West have an easy rapport, both with each other and with their audience, meaning it’s a true pleasure to spend an hour in their conjuring company.  As they hunt down clues to their own murder, our crime-solving tricksters work through a series of “chapters” – blessed with gems of titles including “A Study In Sherlock” – and though the magic vignettes are all fairly gentle, they’re all very inventively played.

Memorising a deck of cards, for example, is impressive by itself.  But here they combine it with a parallel stunt – which draws from the hard science of psychology more than it does from stage magic, and is all the funnier because everyone in the audience can see perfectly well how it’s done.  Another highlight has a standard mind-reading trick re-imagined as a game of Cluedo, tapping a rich vein of humour as our waistcoat-clad hosts point out just how incompetent the original investigation into Dr Black’s death must have been.

If you’ve read my previous reviews of Fringe magic shows, you can probably predict what’s coming now: a smart-alec observation that I know how all the tricks were done, and a grumble that these guys don’t yet rate among the most expert practitioners of their craft.  Well, it’s true – I’m pretty confident I cracked most of their secrets, and I’m just as confident I wasn’t the only one who did.  A couple of the tricks were a little on the cheap side, I feel, and there was an audible “aha!” from around me as the audience clocked one particular less-than-subtle sneaky move.

But to make a fuss about that, I think, is missing the point.  Feeling awe-struck is all very well, but it’s better still to feel entertained – and with its elegant concept, inventive delivery and simple affability, I can’t pick any faults with the feel-good entertainment coursing though this show.  It ends, as well, on a definite high, with a satisfying resolution to the mystery that still leaves the villain at large.  So have your fifth star, Messrs Morgan and West… and the very best of luck catching your killer.  I’d hate this to be the last rave review this lovable pair receives.

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