After several successful adult shows at the Fringe, "Victorian time-travellers" and magicians Rhys Morgan and Robert West have this year turned their attention to “people in the larval stage of humanity” (as West puts it), with funny and thrilling results.
Dressed in mid-18th-century garb against a mock-Victorian set, Morgan (of the “marvellous muttonchops”) and West (of the “wondrous whiskers”) talk in gentlemanly patter throughout, wisely choosing not to tone down the archaic language and trusting their young audience to understand their words through context. The interplay between the two is a joy. West is unimpressed to have to perform to people with such “tiny brains”, while Morgan is a gentle giant, offsetting the sustained disdain of his partner by staying firmly on the children’s side.
There are some lovely unscripted moments, as when a child “dressed inexplicably in a 1970s rock T-shirt” asks for Morgan to produce him a “laserbird” out of balloons. West’s reaction, to ask whether he really does mean a bird that produces “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation,” and what wavelength he’d prefer, is typical of the pair’s spontaneous wit.
The magic itself is almost beside the point, being a mashup of familiar tropes such as soft balls under hats, and autographed cards that turn up in unlikely places. A particular highlight, in which West repeatedly tries to cheat the audience out of picking the right cup of water with a series of faux-logical arguments, contains almost no magic at all. But when the tricks do come they are deftly performed and impressive enough, and by the end there’s barely a child in the room who isn’t wide-eyed and grinning with delight.