Last Updated on January 13, 2023
How to relive a jaded January.
On a wet Thursday night in January, what’s the best way to deal with post-Christmas sadness? Definitely book yourself into a comedy show! I was thrilled to be booked to see Norris & Parker at London’s Soho Theatre, the kind of medicine I need to get me out of the winter whines. Comedy double act with only four London dates for ‘Sirens’ (first seen at the Edinburgh Festival, this was their fifth show, with original new songs by Huge Davies.
We popped into the packed Soho Theater bar at 9.40pm – the show starts at 10pm but the bar itself is definitely a great place to hang out. And, besides Norris & Parker, there are two other shows running nightly. Within minutes, we were chatting with people who knew the duo from stage school and getting a feel for what was to come.
The history of Norris & Parker’s 12-year friendship stands out, taking the audience back in time to when they first met. Katie & Sinead actually met at the Manchester Met School of Theater in 2009, bonded together by a shared birthday (Feb. 26), a shared flat, and shared infatuation for Kate Bush. Julia Davis, Brass Eye, The League of Gentlemen, Twin Peaks and Corrie inspired them.
The new show features a host of quirky characters, sketches and songs including the mini-drama Norris, a two-act coastal thrillerlighthouse, inspired by Hitchcock, Gilbert & Sullivan and The Lighthouse (film). Written in lockdown delirium, the play reflects Norris’ mental state at the time as well as his profound lack of respect for Parker as an actress who turned to drama therapy; forcing her to play the sexy squid and half pig, candid Veronica Ham, who arrives in Kent looking for her missing sister.
It’s all just a little surreal. Members of the audience end up on stage helping fill in for the two cast (we were especially impressed with the Riverdance skit). There was a baby (a flannel doll stolen from the Caucasian Chalk Circle production and later customized by the two). And, just in case anyone like me ever thought of writing a bad review, the poor critic’s severed head was wildly brandished and tossed around…
Along the way, we meet local irritable Gillian McKeith, owner of The Hag’s Bed B&B, who specializes in backstreet abortions, and collapses uncontrollably while having questionable hallucinations. We’re introduced to Sir Joncey Emperor of Dover, a war veteran locked up in room 26, who is passionate about a family legacy that includes a Cher lookalike and a somewhat cute monkey. Then ‘the other’ Gillian McKeith appears in a short personal film, punctuated by snaps of a somewhat charming Katie and Sinead in college. It is an intimate affair, one in which the viewer is involved and transported to another world. Somehow it all seemed to make sense at the time, though as I write, I doubt my own sanity. Maybe that’s the point?
Hailed as one of Britain’s most compelling sketch and character performers, Katie and Sinead lure you into their web of dark and surreal comedies like two black widows in Lycra with ‘Sirens’ named after the Greek mythological creatures, half bird and half woman who luring sailors to ruin with the ‘sweetness’ of their songs. In the end, you feel as if you know them both like old friends.
Their last show of 2018, Burn the Witch, sold out at the Pleasance Courtyard Festival Edinburgh. It later sold out at the Soho Theater and is available for streaming on “Next Up.” Their 2016 show, See you at The Gallowsalso enjoyed a hot sale at The Pleasance Courtyard.
Katie is a comedian, actress, singer, and regular voice actress on Newsjack & The Now Show (BBC Radio 4). Sinead is a comedian, actress and writer. Most recently, he wrote for and appeared on Huge Davies’ new Channel 4 show, ‘The Artists’, a new sitcom about a group of deluded street performers who mistakenly think they are artistic pioneers.
This is the kind of production that makes a great ending to a night in Soho with just an hour running from 10pm (no break). Find out more about Sirens at the Soho Theater and book while you can.
21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE
WEDNESDAY 11th – SATURDAY 14th JANUARY 2023 @ 10 p.m