Morgan & West: Unbelievable Science
Review by Anna Suller
We love a bit of science in our house, none of us are scientists but we all like to think we could be. Having said that I haven’t opened a science book beyond an Usborne without my brain hurting a bit (a lot). However, when we stepped inside the theatre to watch ‘Morgan & West: Unbelievable Science’ we were handed 3D glasses, which was a very good indicator as to the type of ‘sciencey’ entertainment we were in for (and yes, I do realise using the word ‘sciencey’ risks putting me in the ‘not sciencey’ category). The hour was a fun dose of crowd-pleasing experiments, brain bending, illusions, daft humour, and a very funny 3D demonstration – who doesn’t love a bit of 3D? (Don’t go with a hangover).
One of the things that helps lift Morgan and West into ‘this is going to be fun’ category is their free-standing set, an amusing, almost pantomime like laboratory that incorporates a large TV screen. This was on stage when we arrived, it immediately portrayed a familiar feeling of family theatre which helped relax us all into knowing we had something to look forward to (that and the 3D glasses). Before the show began the screen displayed revolving fun facts which got people talking and giggling, it was lovely to hear people of all ages across the room chatting about what they’d just read and I heard many a “well, I didn’t know that!” and lots of chuckles. My favourite was “London is closer to the International Space Station than Scotland” (if your kids are at the same school as mine, then please ignore this because I will be using it in the fund raiser quiz), and my kids’ favourite was “you cannot burp in space”. This pretty much sets the tone for the show - lots of “oohs” and “aaahs” with a large squeeze of silliness.
Morgan and West (former teachers) dressed in Victorian/Edwardian costumes (I am neither scientist nor historian, sorry) which again had a heavy hint of pantomime about them, this also softens the edges for people who were worried about understanding the science (me). Morgan and West didn’t muck about with getting on with the stuff we’d come to see, after a very swift introduction they cracked on with blowing our tiny minds with chemistry experiments that had us rubbing our eyes in disbelief, my daughter whispered to me “how did they do that?”, “Science” I whispered back wisely. The show is structured around visually stimulating experiments, entertaining illusions and very silly humour that got us all laughing and ‘wowing’ at one point or another. It was jam packed and not a moment was wasted.
What I really liked about Morgan and West is that their show isn’t really about them, there are no egos on stage, the star performer really is the science itself. To my mind they use the family safe ‘straight guy/comic guy’ routine to create a light-hearted space that allows science to shine for an hour, and it works well. We enjoyed ourselves and we all learnt something.
The kids really liked the illusions and my husband and I loved the chemistry and physics stuff, but we all agreed the 3D part was our favourite. There is something for everyone in this show, like I said it’s jam packed and you absolutely do not need to understand science or be a science fan to enjoy it.
As I’m reviewing this show I do need to be 100 per cent honest and if I was to give a wee bit of feedback it would be this… both my children are dyslexic and my daughter, who has just turned 8, often struggles to read at speed, especially from a distance. At one point we were asked to silently read something off the screen and to not say it aloud because you would be heard and spoil the illusion, so I couldn’t help her and she wasn’t able to read it in the time given. Unfortunately, she missed out there. So, if you have children who are very young or find reading difficult, this little bit of the show might be lost on them. Looking around the room I think most of the kids were late primary school age, possibly some soon to be teens but I’d say average age of the children was about 9 ish, so I suspect the reading thing wasn’t a problem for most.
Regardless of this, it was very enjoyable family entertainment and we all said we’d love to see Morgan and West again.
Note from the 11 year old: It was really good and fun to watch, I liked the set, the facts at the start and the illusions, but my favourite part was the 3D.
Note from the 8 year old: The set was very cool and the facts at the start were funny and interesting. My favourite bits were the 3D bit and the man in the box that was stabbed*. It was very funny and seriously mesmerising.
*I can assure that no scientists were harmed in the making of the show (and just to clarify, the box with stabbed, not the man, please believe me when I say my child is safe to be around and does not enjoy stabbing things… I don’t think).