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Paul Selwyn Norton and Andrew Morrish

'My Fair DJ'

Not completely in the mix

by Lyndsey Winship

June 3-4, 2004 – Purcell Room, London

"My Fair DJ" is a terrible name for a show, which is always a bad start. A hip hop Pygmalion? Eliza Dolittle takes to the decks? A cockney knees-up with added spin? Or perhaps a try-hard attempt to mix show tunes with street style? In the end, the answer is none of the above.

When the performers first emerge, dramatically silhouetted in dry ice, it looks like we might be in for an evening of earnest cliché. But as the pair stumble on stage, comedically coughing through the mist, it’s clear that they don’t take themselves too seriously. And that’s a relief. Wheeling on a shopping trolley loaded with props, records and a pair of decks, dressed in leather hats and aprons, Paul Selwyn Norton and Andrew Morrish look like a cross between Steptoe & Son and the KLF - which has got to be a first.

"My Fair DJ" is actually an experiment in improvisatory theatre - with some dance moves thrown in for good measure - that takes the art of rapping and DJing as its inspiration. However, rather than musical influences (after all, the records on the trolley are Julie Andrews and Barbarella), what they appropriate from hip hop culture is the craft of cut and paste. Instead of rhythms, they play with words; they mix metaphors rather than records and spit out sound bites instead of musical hooks. Eminem has nothing to fear; this isn’t the heated stuff of battling MCs, just a mild mannered stream of consciousness that betrays an unhealthy fixation with the actress Margaret Rutherford.

Norton and Morrish are a very likeable pair. Amsterdam-based Brit Norton is the writer/choreographer whose works have been danced by Ballet Frankfurt and Batsheva Dance Company. His solid frame is surprisingly lithe and he accompanies his verbal meanderings with morphing shapes and gentle convulsions. In contrast, Australian improviser and theatre maker Morrish plays the clown. He goes to make similar moves to Norton but his untrained physique throws out a completely different result.

The onstage antics are absurd and amusing, generating giggles from the audience, although it’s one of those situations where you’re not quite sure what you’re laughing at. It all adds up to an hour’s distraction, but unfortunately, little more.

Edited by Jeff.

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