Des de Moor
Ham&High (Hampstead and Highgate Express) 14 February 2003
Photo: Theo Cohen
DARKNESS AND DISGRACE
To most people the defining recongnisable feature of David Bowie is his extravagant theatricality, so it is a little bit of a shock when one finds his work being represented by two middle-aged men rather scruffily dressed in what appear to be each other's jackets.
It is an attempt by the devisers of the show to explore Bowie seriously as a poet and musician, stripping the lyrics to the bare bones and ruthlessly casting aside all vestiges of glamour. This creates a strangely unforgettable series of images, due in many ways to the appearance of the performers.
Des de Moor is the round one, a versatile tenor with a hint of the bouncy bonhomie of Ricky Gervaise combined witha flexible, powerful voice and a talent for pathos and drama.
The thin lugubrious one is Russell Churney, the possessor of an eminently watchable face -- the unbeatable combination of humorous mouth and mournful eyes -- combined with outstanding piano playing.
These two Bowie devotees interpret his lyrics while treating their hero with a kind of amused idolatry, quoting from press conference where Churney does his very funny and wonderfully accurate Bowie impersonations, that almost transparent layer of bored sophistication covering the accents and aspirations of the boy from Bromley.
These men are steeped in musicality and lyricism of Bowie, who took his inspiration from many sources in addition to the rock traditions of the times, representing each era from the late '60s to the present. The songs are juxtaposed with readings from George Orwell's 1984 (leading neatly into "We are the Dead") and passages from WH Auden and Bertolt Brecht.
The musical references come from Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers, but there is a whole German section showing his affinity and debt to Kurt Weill.
The two performers are specialists in the art of chanson and can frequently be seen at the Vortex Theatre, in Islington [actually Stoke Newington and not a theatre], with their director, Barb Jungr.