Des de Moor
Press Cuttings: Darkness and Disgrace

Theatreworld Internet Magazine 11 February 2003
Photo: Theo Cohen

Devised by Russell Churney, Des de Moor and Barb Jungr
Pentameters Theatre

This is a show for all you David Bowie fans out there - and it will also bring some revelations to those of you who, like me, are not familiar with much more than Ground Control to Major Tom. Darkness and Disgrace is a Pandora's Box of Bowie songs, interviews, and texts by other writers such as Orwell and Brecht, set to the music of the piano, two guitars and percussion.

All of this is performed by two unlikely looking blokes, but what they have done is to strip off the distractions of Bowie's weird image and the full orchestration of the songs. They have presented us with Bowie laid bare, so that we can see clearly the man and his poetry. They have enriched this by using the contexts of his early life and of other writers who have influenced him, to tell a story. And so a picture of an extraordinary man gradually emerges.

Des de Moor is the lead singer, who doesn't exactly 'play' Bowie, but conveys a strong sense of the mysteries that lie behind the man, and reveals some of his major influences. Russell Churney, on piano and as the harmonic singer, interprets the music with a masterful touch.

I was staggered by some of the emotions, the darkness and the humour lurking there in the words of his songs. And he writes so well. 'Television shows you everything round the world but the mysteries remain…'

The interviews on the other hand reveal Bowie as an 'ordinary' person - which may of course be a cultivated image. But the interview dates range from 1969 to 2002, so who knows? From the 2002 interview, de Moor [actually Churney] deadpans: 'I have no interest in fashion. Never have done. People give me clothes and I just wear them…My wife's the same…'. And from 1969: 'I never knew there were so many sitar players in Beckenham…'

I must confess that I never really understood why Bowie was so popular. I think that, being a tongue-tied young girl hopeless at fashion, I was a little scared of the make-up and the strange clothes, and his songs never really grabbed me either. And now? Fashion passes me by as I merrily wave at it, I have matured in certain ways and I am able to listen and speak. David Bowie would also have passed me by if de Moor and Churney, along with director Barb Jungr, had not brought his poetry to life in such a compelling, intimate and illuminating way.

Julia Hickman

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