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On The Table Read, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, comedy duo Norris & Parker talk about Sirens, their friendship, and what audiences can expect from the Soho Theatre show.
Comedy double act Norris & Parker, aka Katie Norris & Sinead Parker, are bringing their critically acclaimed Edinburgh show ‘Sirens’ to the Soho Theatre from the 11th to the 14th of January.
This is your fourth show together, do you approach how you create them differently to how you did with your debut?
We have always created work in a loosely similar way; one of us will bring an idea for a character or sketch, or a weird turn of phrase that we’ve heard somewhere and we will start messing about from there. We watch a lot of documentaries and listen to music and an idea will start to emerge. We will improvise for a while, then get a ‘shit version’ of a script down for structure, this will involve one of us saying “it’s something like this but less shit” and then we will sit and stare at each other, have a bath or a fever dream until the ‘better’ version appears.
Katie: We also go on writers retreats and the environment we are in will often inspire the writing, the three part coastal trilogy ‘The Lighthouse’ from the show came about from us going to write by the Kent coast. Real life events, break ups and our insane families will always seep into our writing.
Sinead: The main difference was the discovery of google docs and zoom. Have you heard about this?
All the names of your shows are gothic, is this a general interest of yours or just the type of humour you enjoy?
We are fans of the gothic aesthetic and horror and melodrama are always an influence in our shows. We love The Witch, Black Narcissus and we’re avid tarot card readers.
Who are your favourite comics to watch?
Elf Lyons, Natalie Palamides, Lucy McCormick, Sam Campbell, Sean McCloughlin, Huge Davies, Helen Bauer.
Your shows often involve singing, does this stem from a desire to showcase Katie’s voice or Sinead’s?
Katie: If we can call what Sinead does singing, it’s more growling vowel sounds and high-pitched banshee keening. Although this didn’t stop her having two solos in ‘Sirens’. One called “Vegan boy” which was a love song about her 22 year old plant-based boyfriend Jamie who she met in a store buying vegan sausages (she actually met him at work). We’ve cut it for the Soho Theatre run because it added nothing to the plot, was not sung well and killed the energy in the room.
I myself am a grade 7 singer and played Joanna, the blonde virgin soprano in our drama school production of Sweeney Todd, whilst Sinead was cast as ‘Beggar Woman’ and threw a tantrum about her costume and cried under the stairs.
Katie you have started doing stand-up as well, how is that different to working in Norris and Parker?
Katie: I can no longer blame Sinead if a punchline doesn’t land or if the audience don’t like me and sadly there is no one to pull my finger in the green room or fart in the car during long distance journeys.
Sinead, you’ve recently qualified in Dramatherapy, does that cause you to approach your sketches in a different way?
Sinead: The great thing about dramatherapy is that the therapist uses creative art forms as part of the therapeutic work and is often an artist themselves. I’ve always found comedy inherently therapeutic, it’s a way to explore my shadow side and different archetypes through sketches. I’d love to see how dramatherapy and comedy could work together in the future.
You’ve been friends since university, do you get sick of each other?
Sinead: Yes. Katie recently came over to my flat to write and after she left sent me a text saying “I left some chewing gum on your table, soz.” When I investigated, there was a piece of gum ingrained into my recently deceased Granny’s tablecloth. I think she’s getting revenge for the time I accidentally perioded onto her white cushion and for some reason she handwashed it.
There is an almost telepathic quality to working with Katie, we finish each other’s sentences, will often have the same thought at the same time and speak at an inaudible frequency that boyfriends find confusing. Our relationship comes under stress during Edinburgh tech runs, as I tend to find something to freak out about which acts as a vehicle for all my anxieties, usually it’s a head mic not fitting my tiny head. As I write this, she has just shouted at me “are you writing a dissertation?” and has accused me of typing too loudly.
Katie: I recently got really annoyed with Sinead because she told me not to fart in the Monkey Barrel green room because it was too small and hot. I found this to be extremely hypocritical because she hot boxes my car relentlessly when I’m driving us around the UK.
You perform in Lycra catsuits, how did you come to that choice?
A lot of intellectual thought went into that. However, we are currently in discussion with our team about the future of the catsuits, as we were in our mid 20’s when we first started wearing them and now Sinead has to wear two layers of industrial shape wear and an arse harness and Katie is on an NHS waiting list for a Brazilian butt lift.
What would you say ‘Sirens’ is about?
‘Sirens’ is a fever dream of a sketch show, where we will lure our audience to a watery grave with our hypnotic songs and surreal comedy. Inspired by 1940’s coastal thrillers, Sally Rooney books and Techno, ‘Sirens’ also showcases Norris’ three act play ‘The Lighthouse’, which was written in a lockdown delirium and involves an ingenue pig and Gillian McKeith.
You were forced to cancel halfway through your Edinburgh Fringe run, how does it feel to bring it back now to Soho Theatre?
Katie: Sinead selfishly caught covid ten shows in and we were forced to cancel the run.
Sinead: I had to isolate in the basement of an Edinburgh flat share with no natural light and was banned from leaving my room. One time when my Uber Eats was delivered to the wrong address, I cried behind my door and Katie offered to microwave a Tesco prawn tikka masala. We sat together in the garden (socially distanced) as it rained and I cried whilst eating it. So yeah, really excited for Soho and hoping for the same again really!
Katie: Soho is our favourite venue to perform at and we hope the chino-wearing audience member who stormed out and called us “a disgrace to women” returns to see ‘Sirens’. I can’t wait to give him a hug.
How do London audiences differ to Edinburgh audiences?
They don’t. Edinburgh audiences are just London audiences summering in Scotland.
How do you want your audience to leave feeling?
Scared, confused, aroused but ultimately with their cockles warmed.
Describe your show in 5 words.
A sensual bloodbath of comedy.
Find more from Norris & Parker now:
Norris and Parker ‘Sirens’ is at Soho Theatre 11th – 14th January 2023, 10pm
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