Morgan & West – A (sort of) Christmas Carol Magic Show!
Hit magical duo take on Dickens in this festive show
Given the thick veneer of stylised Victoriana with which magicians Morgan and West cover their other shows – notably the Edinburgh Fringe hits Parlour Tricks and The Utterly Spiffing Spectacular Magic Show for Kids – it's little surprise to find they've now added Charles Dickens to their repertoire. And not just any Dickens, but the author's most familiar narrative, A Christmas Carol. As the title suggests, however, we needn't expect a straight reading of the story here, with (Rhys) Morgan claiming to be unversed in the novella and (Robert) West dragging him through it.
The pair dip in and out of the tale, giving priority to the jokes and particularly to the magic. In this new, larger and even grander Edinburgh's Christmas auditorium, they achieve something of a budget Muppet Christmas Carol feel, stacking the stage high with versatile prop presents and dressing like 19th century gentlemen. With a foot in each camp – one telling the story in fragmentary style, the other doing their own thing – they keep their show moving in light and compellingly watchable fashion. Any initial lack of focus which might exist in their storytelling is worn away as the tricks get more and more impressive.
There are plenty of moments to draw gasps here, though they're significantly padded with jokey riffs on Dickens. When a quick costume change is carried out in dramatic (almost) full view, a flying sequence has the pair defying gravity before us and an audience participant is gifted an inexplicably levitating paper flower in close quarters. That's when the real magic happens in a manner which will have the audience perplexed by the seeming impossibility of it all. Throw in a brief, stunning juggling sequence and highly effective showers of sweeties and snow, and it's easy to forgive the flimsiness of the framing material.
Festival Square Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 7 Jan (not Sat 25 Dec & Sun 1 Jan).