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Morgan & West: Lying, Cheating Scoundrels
Published on Friday, 10 August 2012
5

5 stars

Gilded Balloon Teviot (venue website)
Comedy
1-5, 8-12, 15-19, 22-26 Aug, 11:59pm-12:59am
Reviewed by Will Howard

 Recommended for age 16+ only.

Last year Morgan and West were an absolute treat to behold, with their show Crime Solving Magicians seeing the impeccably-dressed duo travel from the late Victorian era to find that someone had murdered them both. The show, based around their attempts to solve and prevent their own bumping-off, was sensational – though not necessarily for the reasons you’d assume. While Morgan and West are talented magicians, famously fooling Penn and Teller on their own TV show, their magic can sometimes take a back seat to their personalities and ready wit.

But Lying, Cheating Scoundrels is the complete opposite of that. The only thing resembling a set was a card table and some books; this was a highly intimate evening of card tricks, coin tricks and wagers. It wasn’t even about magic in the traditional sense, so much as a demonstration of how a good card cheat can do seemingly impossible things. I hope I never enjoy being scammed so much ever again.

The evening was so low-key, it was almost sinister. Both Morgan and West tackled the roles of mysterious yet gentlemanly card sharks with lip-smacking relish. Of course, the humour is still there: they’re not afraid to puncture their menacing personae from time to time, with choice barbs going back and forth concerning how famously they’d bungled card games with the likes of Brunel, Charlotte Bronte and Charles Darwin (Charlie D to his mates).

Refreshingly, all this was subsidiary to Morgan and West showing just what they can do with a willing audience and a deck of cards – and that, in and of itself, was something entirely special.  I won’t say all that much about the stunts they pulled, which are all too good to spoil here.  But I’d suggest you get there early and sit in the front row (not all that difficult, there are only two after all), where you’ll actively play a part in some of the tricks and scams, and possibly walk home with a shiny new deck of cards. Which may or may not be marked.

The one thing I do need to stress is that this is not a traditional table magic show, and if you go in expecting one, you may be disappointed. This act is more about deception, scamming and – as the title of the show suggests – cheating. Personally I’m looking forward to the day Morgan and West give us an old-school Victorian séance, which will probably be one of my favourite things in the world, but this particular outing is quite openly about skill and lying and never tries to be anything else.

So this is one for the fans: for those so impressed with last year’s showing (or indeed this year’s show Clockwork Miracles), that they are willing to give the duo a shot at something quite different. And even if this doesn’t sound your metaphorical cup of tea, dear reader, I urge you to go along. If anyone can put on an evening of scams and make it memorable, funny, exciting and unique, it’s the lying, cheating scoundrels themselves… Morgan and West.

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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