Australian actor Andrew Morrish wants to be to contemporary dance what Rex Harrison was to singing. This wry little confession is one of several endearing moments in My Fair DJ, a double act featuring Morrish and Amsterdam-based choreographer Paul Selwyn Norton. The dodgy title may suggest an improvised cutting contest between dancer and actor, using quotes from My Fair Lady as weapons – but in fact this lightly comic show is more an exercise in gentle whimsy.
Morrish and Norton emerge from a cloud of smoke, wearing hats just like the one worn by Eliza Doolittle’s dad. They wheel on a supermarket trolley stacked with turntables, LPs and some never-used props such as a green plastic skeleton and a white mug: it’s a rag-and-bone collection pushed about by a couple of swells. Their speech and movement are equally pick-and-mix. Norton’s twists, spins and errant limbs echo his fickle turns of phrase: “All’s well that ends in tears”, “It’s a long way to tip … your hat.” He squats on his haunches wearing two hats at once, their brims flopping like the ears of a mournful basset hound.
where Norton's free associations drift in any direction, Morrish's keep coming back to a single theme: Margaret Rutherford.
Though he is older and tubbier than we’re used to seeing on a dance stage, Morrish is a nimble fellow, skipping like a pixie. But where Norton’s verbal and physical free associations drift in any direction, Morrish’s meandering trails of speech keep coming back to a single theme: Margaret Rutherford. He venerates her, picturing her thoroughbred thighs astride a bicycle; he loves her lavish chins. And he nails the difference between her and Audrey Hepburn: Rutherford has no neck, Hepburn has extra neck.
As with a DJ’s set, this semi-improvised show is made of cuts, samples and scratches. But it skates the surface of its theme while lacking the thrill of risk that improvisation can bring. Lacking, too, is dramatic conflict: Morrish and Norton are an odd but amiable couple. The result is daffy, bemusing and curiously unmemorable.