As we pack into the sold-out Pleasance Attic and shuffle into seats, soft gothic organ music diffuses from centre-stage. The source is a bearded man in dark glasses dressed like a Victorian vampire hunter sat at a keyboard. Once he (with a number of rude jokes) introduces Norris and Parker, they launch into a vaudevillian piano-backed number riffing on how silly the phrase ‘feminazi’ is. They do the whole song, which is interspersed with hilarious spoken-word segments, in character as satirically authoritarian, SS-style feminists – just in case anyone in the audience wasn’t quite taking their point. It’s at this threshold I realise this show might have been written with specifically me in mind.
Here it should be noted that See You at the Gallows targets a pretty specific audience. There’s a certain level of immersion in Norris and Parker’s influences that may be required, and not everyone is going to quite get it. It’s not that there’s huge amounts of obscure referencing, but rather just that you need to be on their haunted wavelength, because they have no intention of changing to yours. Fans of macabre, mordant satire, Victorian London, and cat suits will love it.
Norris and Parker themselves are a joy to watch, and the intimacy of the venue ensures no-one’s left squinting or struggling to see. On the subject of intimacy, both performers are absolutely fearless with the audience, delighting particularly in making male members (in both senses) feel uncomfortable for everyone else’s amusement. The guy they made dress up as Heathcliff I feel particularly sorry for, though I’m not sure he feels the same.
The pianist Christof – I don’t know if that’s his real name – is not to be dismissed either, providing morbid backing music and unexpected laughs throughout. He’s particularly impressive during the several musical numbers, which are impressive in themselves. Norris has a wonderful singing voice, and huge range, whilst Parker – a strong singer herself – deals mostly in wild, overstated physical comedy.
While Christof takes the role of backbone, the duo of Norris and Parker use their inherent chemistry to their advantage to front out every sketch. They are both great impressionists, and there’s one male character Norris plays that’s so spot on the only thing breaking the illusion is the skin-tight cat-suit visible under his tasteless leather jacket. Parker also has a stand-out impression but I’d hang myself from a gallows before even beginning to spoil it.
Jolly and macabre tunes, grisly and rude humour, and an unmistakable air of cabaret make this a must-see for any self-respecting goth. Wear black, and enjoy with fatalistic whimsy.
★★★★ and a half