A Vice documentary educated us about the rise of sex witches in the Northern village of Phallus Ridge, and how a local landlady teamed up with a sex-crazed biker to track down her potentially adulterous husband. Norris & Parker: Burn the Witch is both exactly that and a lot more. This is the basic story-line that the audience manages to carve out of a surreal and explicit mixture of dance, sex jokes, and techno musical numbers.
It is very strange, but the show is also a lot of fun. Katie Norris and Sinead Parker use their comedy to talk very frankly about sex, the body and their relationships. While the pair’s openness is indeed striking at times, neither the focus or the speciality of this show is heart-to-heart conversations. The point is you should wet yourself laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Everything, from getting it on with a whale, to the curse brought upon a family by a newly grown mullet, is delightfully nonsensical and enjoyable – twice as much when told through song. It is a theatrical branch of comedy that Norris and Parker use to say something about politics and human relationships, but primarily to make everyone in the crowd crack up (including themselves).
Despite the best distracting efforts of funky lighting and witch hats, the earliest thing to catch your attention about Burn the Witch is the fizzing chemistry between its two stars. There are moments throughout where Norris and Parker break character to talk about some of their experiences, and in these moments you realise how strong the bond between the two is. It is this bond that helps the pair interact so well as performers. The result of this trust onstage is hilarity, delivering jokes that could easily fall flat when delivered from other performers but get the best reaction possible here. They risk being upstaged on several occasions though by their musician ‘Huge Davies’, a quiet man with an Adam Driver-style disinterested stare. Davies barely has to say or do anything to make the audience giggle. He is brilliant.
The three-person cast do make occasional comments about the smut and language in the show, and it is indeed pushing boundaries as many good comedies do. Fortunately, the crowd never seems lost or overly offended by what they have to say and more get on board with all their innuendo antics. This is just as well, because Norris and Parker like to involve their onlookers. The closing 5-10 minutes in particular feature a brilliant piece of audience involvement that catches you completely off guard. This best joke is saved up right until the end.
Nothing that you can ever read or hear will prepare you for the experience of Burn the Witch. In the best possible ways, it is weirder, more outlandish and entertaining than anyone could second guess. It is a madcap hour that leaves you giggling like an immature teenager throughout, and in hindsight reflecting on the significance of it all and how wonderfully Norris and Parker own the show.
Norris & Parker: Burn the Witch
Pleasance Courtyard – Pleasance Beneath (Venue 33)
Photo Credit: Impressive PR