MORGAN and West are men out of time — or so their publicity would have you believe.
The time travelling magicians bring some Victorian magic to the 21st century, with audiences in Inverness and Aberdeen set to see their feats of prestidigitation and precognition following another successful Edinburgh Fringe run last month.
The truth is that the duo’s history does not stretch quite as far back as the 19th century.
Rhys Morgan and Rob West only started doing magic some five years ago while they were still at university, and it was only later that they would reinvent themselves as Victorian gentlemen.
"I didn’t want to go ultra-modern with t-shirts and jeans. I’m quite a large chap and don’t look good in a t-shirt, so we went for the classical look," Morgan explained.
"The idea of the Victorian look evolved over six or seven months. Originally we did a lot of close up magic and wanted to be able to walk into a room and have people say right away: ‘There’s the magicians.’"
Neither Morgan nor West were particularly aficionados of the Victorian era, but the image also chimed with the more contemporary influences of recently released films The Prestige and The Illusionist, both of which centred on 19th century magicians.
It also allowed the pair to come up with a time-travel element for their own magic.
Yet though they are happy to adopt Victorian imagery, Morgan and West are certainly not inspired by Victorian era magicians.
"Most Victorian magic was incredibly boring," Morgan stated.
"Everything has moved on so much. A 150 years you could go to the French colonies and if no-one could pick up a box you’d lifted up a second ago, you seemed like a god," Morgan said.
"Audiences are much more savvy and aware. We have to come up with new routines and everything we do is modern conjuring with a Victorian veneer."
Still the image allows them to make nods to Victorian culture with H.G. Wells, the father of time travel tales, an obvious reference. Their current tour includes a trick inspired by Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, though the Morgan and West partnership have previous experience of sleuthing.
Unlike the current touring show, their Edinburgh appearances are often based around a story, creating an adventure play with magical interludes. In one of these the time travelling magicians even turned detective to solve their own murders.
They have also matched wits with another famous duo, leading US magic duo Penn and Teller, for the ITV1 show Fool Us, which offered a Las Vegas booking for the magicians who could trick them.
It was an experience Morgan summed up as "terrifying".
"We did get to go to Las Vegas, though I’m not sure either of us would ever go back," he added.
"It’s not quite for us — we prefer a cup of tea and a biscuit and an armchair to some of the delights of Vegas, but it was a wonderful thing to be involved in and we’re very glad we did it."
• Morgan and West appear at the OneTouch Theatre, Eden Court, on Thursday 26th and the Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, on Friday 27th September.