Cabaret Interview Caro Meets

Morgan & West: Parlour Tricks

By | Published on Thursday 14 January 2016


If you haven’t yet been exposed to the work of the brilliantly entertaining magic-making, time-travelling Victorian duo known as Morgan and West, then you frankly haven’t lived. Well, okay, you have lived, but your life could be better. Believe me.
Anyway, I let out a number of mildly decorous Victorian-style cheers when I heard they would be headed to Wilton’s Music Hall for four performances of their latest show ‘Parlour Tricks’, and then almost immediately arranged to put some questions to them. I spoke to just the one half of this talented outfit, Mr Rhys Morgan.

CM: For any fools out there who don’t yet know who you are, can you please explain what kind of show it is that you do?
RM: As it so happens we are in the business of fooling, entertaining and fooling to be exact. We are magicians you see. Time travelling magicians to be precise – hailing from 1888 we’ve come to the 21st century as the career and healthcare prospects are far superior! As a result we do a magic show, pure and simple. What better place to watch a beautiful piece of deception than the very grand Wilton’s Music Hall?

CM: And can you tell us a bit about what to expect from this particular show, ‘Parlour Tricks’?
RM: Magic, mystery, amazement, gasps, laughs, raised eyebrows – all the trappings of a magic show. It’s always a tough one to go into more detail lest I spoil the surprise. Suffice it to say I am confident even the hardiest of sceptics will have a jolly good time.

CM: Wilton’s is a great venue, isn’t it? Do you think it particularly suits your act?
RM: Wilton’s is magnificent, music hall was such an important part of British culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that it really is a privilege to perform there. Where better to set up our parlour than in such Victorian splendour?

CM: Tell us a bit about your past. How did you two meet? What made you want to work together?
RM: We met at university whilst doing a student production of Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters. The two of us spent more time on and off the stage that doing our actual degrees (Physics for me, Chemistry for Mr West). As it happens we share a very similar sense of humour which, coupled with a fairly strong desire to be the centre of attention, led to the formation of the duo you see today.

CM: When you were little children, is this what you wanted to do when you grew up?
RM: Goodness gracious no! Neither of us even played with card tricks until the ripe old age of 20. I quite fancied myself as a palaeontologist, a scientist, a teacher, or indeed a miniature painter. Mr West also had various aspirations, none related to the conjuring arts!

CM: What is it about magic that you find fulfilling?
RM: It is really very satisfying to tell an honest lie on stage. When you come to see a magic show you understand that what you see isn’t real – everything is a trick. We are showing you something that is, by all rights, impossible but clearly it isn’t otherwise we wouldn’t have done it! So you are complicit in your own deception, a deception that we very much hope you enjoy.

CM: How would you sell magic shows to people who say they don’t like magic?
RM: Saying ‘I don’t like magic’ is akin to saying ‘I don’t like comedy’. What you mean is ‘I’ve seen one or two terrible bits of magic and so I don’t like the idea of it’. Give it a try, there are lots of different types of magic just like there are lots of different types of comedy. Just because you don’t like stand up doesn’t mean you won’t like comedy plays. Just because you don’t like card tricks doesn’t mean you won’t like two slightly silly olde-worlde characters doing tricks on stage…

CM: My daughter and I saw your family show at the ye old EdFringe this summer, and we were both utterly enthralled and delighted by it. Do you have any plans to bring that show to London?
RM: Yes indeed we do! As a matter of fact it’ll be at the Finchley Arts Depot on Sunday April 3rd, and then also at the London Wonderground on the Southbank around the May school holidays. We cannot wait!

CM: Where do you see yourself going from here? What do you expect from the future, long term?
RM: Onwards and upwards we hope! More magic, bigger shows, better tricks!

CM: And what about the short term? Any imminent new projects?
RM: We’re off on tour with Parlour Tricks in the Autumn and are currently planning something rather special for Christmas which I can’t really say much about. Sorry to be a terrible tease…

Morgan & West’s ‘Parlour Tricks’ is on at Wilton’s Music Hall from 19-23 Jan. See the venue website as soon as you possibly can to book your tickets.

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Photo: Steve Ullathorne

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