Review Edinburgh Fringe Richard Wiseman and Morgan and West

Richard Wiseman Psychobabble

The Assembly Rooms, George Street

Most shows at the Fringe are performed repeatedly so there are plenty of options to see them but there are a few one offs and this was one.  It's part of a series of talks at The Assembly Rooms which includes Jon Ronson and Robin Ince.

Richard Wiseman holds the chair of Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and has written a number of excellent books, the latest of which, Rip It Up, has just been released in paperback.

Psychobabble is really a journey through the interests of Wiseman,  starting off with magic, so cue a few magic tricks from the former professional magician.  This then led on to his interest in optical and auditory illusions and how we perceive the world- his demonstrations will have forever changed the way the sell out audience view Mickey Mouse and Carmina Burana.  We then moved to the paranormal including the world's scariest fire walk and a mass public participation with ghost photographs.  Finally we were treated to some aspects of luck and the psychology of change.

So, that's the topics that were covered but how was it?  In a word, excellent!  Wiseman is an engaging speaker, both accomplished and relaxed he seems to be having as much fun as the audience and not to the detriment of our enjoyment as you sometimes see from some performers.

The show is a mixture of magic, general chat and some advice which could change your life - for example in surveys he has conducted on the psychology of change three times as many people regret not doing something (I wish I had done...) as those who regret doing something (I wish I hadn't done...).  So with a few obvious exceptions I guess the take home message is go for it! And if you ever get the chance to see this show or Richard Wiseman speaking then I would indeed urge you to go for it- don't end up wishing you'd done it, do it!


Morgan and West: A Grand Adventure

Gilded Balloon, Teviot

Like Richard Wiseman Morgan and West are now Fringe regulars with this being I think their sixth appearance.  For those not familiar with them I do strongly urge you to rectify that and go and see them now.  Morgan and West are a pair of Victorian Time Travelling Magicians.  Suitably bewhiskered and waistcoated they promised to take us on a great adventure, and this they most certainly did.

Mr Morgan

Arguably this show has a stronger narrative thread than previous entries and it has a most satisfactory ending too.  But all of this is a simple vehicle for the magic tricks that the duo perform.   A gentleness of their characters, along with their physcial appearance reminds us of Laurel and Hardy which gives an instant rapport with us and the onstage magicians, this makes it easy for them to pluck members from the audience to act out scenes with them.  The story is based on their quest to recover their stolen Book of lies upon which their entire professional lives depend (magicians admitting they lie - whatever next!).

Mr West

Throughout the show there is plenty of misdirection and even though they tell you that misdirection is taking place you still fall for it, a testament to their skills.   Add humour to the whole proceedings and you genuinely have a show for all the family.  The rooms they are playing at the Fringe are getting bigger each year - a testament to their popularity, and they are now embarking on tours outside the Fringe so the opportunities to see them perform are increasing and I do urge you to see them if you can.  A story with a beginning, a middle and an end, two likeable chaps, good magic and humour - what more could you ask for in a show.

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