BPREVIEW: The Gilded Merkin Burlesque & Cabaret @ The Glee Club (B’ham) 18.03.18

The Gilded Merkin Burlesque & Cabaret @ The Glee Club (B’ham) 18.03.18Words by Emily Doyle

On 18th March, The Gilded Merkin returns to The Glee Club Birmingham for another night of burlesque and cabaret. According to BBC’s John Hess, it will be “a hugely generous dollop of magical sophisticated glamour” – what better way to spend your Sunday evening?

Doors open at The Glee Club from 6pm with last entry at 6:45pm. Minimum age of entry is 18, with tickets priced at £15 – for direct show information, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

As usual, The Gilded Merkin is programmed and hosted by Scarlett Daggers – a fiery redhead with ten years experience on the UK burlesque circuit. Scarlett Daggers’ rockabilly flair also makes her a favourite at car shows and tattoo conventions up and down the country, and saw her perform at the F1 Grand Prix Silverstone.

Taking a break from his role as resident host for Tres Tres cabaret in Stafford and La De Da Cabaret in Derby, comedian and vocalist Stage Door Johnny will be joining the line-up at The Gilded Merkin. Known for his wit, charm, and love of musical theatre, Stage Door Johnny promises to have the audience “eating from the palm of his hand – sometimes literally…”

Also on the bill is international artist Miss Betsy Rose, who was ranked the UK’s number one burlesque performer of 2016 by 21st Century Burlesque Magazine. Miss Betsy Rose’s classic look and professional dance background embody the spirit of early burlesque, and have seen her appear in French Vogue, ID, Harpers Bazaar and Italian Playboy.

Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer will also be at The Gilded Merkin, combining jump-up, rap and banjolele to create an art form he’s labeled as ‘chap hop’. His electro-swing tracks have garnered a huge YouTube following and landed Mr.B live sessions with BBC Radio’s Rob Da Bank, Nick Grimshaw, Steve Lamacq and Shaun Keaveny, to name but a few. 

Also performing is Lolo Brow, a green haired Londoner who describes herself a neo-burlesque performer, drag queen and lizard lady. Named the Burlesque Awards Performer of the Year 2016, Lolo Brow combines her circus skills and total lack of respect for stage/audience boundaries to shock and delight. 

Last but certainly not least is Dave the Bear, who appears online under the username ‘bighairygrowler’; his various acts are said to involve, glitter, latex, mirror balls and his alter ego ‘Maria Beary’. Dave the Bear has previously appeared in all his hirsute glory on the cover of Playbear magazine, as well as showing off his comedy chops on 8 out of 10 Cats and The Xtra Factor. 

If there’s not something in The Gilded Merkin‘s showcase of burlesque and cabaret that grabs your attention this Sunday, I don’t know what to say to you… Try church? 

The Gilded Merkin presents a showcase of burlesque and cabaret at The Glee Club on Sunday 18th March – presented by Scarlett Daggers. For direct show information, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit www.glee.co.uk/performer/gilded-merkin-birmingham

For more on The Gilded Merkin, visit www.gildedmerkin.co.uk

For more from The Glee Club venues, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.glee.co.uk

BREVIEW: Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin @ The Old Joint Stock 31.08-03.09.2017

Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin / Patrick Boland

Words by Lucy Mounfield / Pics by Patrick Boland

I can’t think of better way to mourn the end of August than by doing what’s best on a wonderful summer’s eve – drinking, laughing and having a good time. Thankfully, Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin, performed at The Old Joint Stock Theatre, allowed me to do just that.

Indeed, gin is enjoying a renaissance. In recent years gin drinking has spread everywhere from the hipster burger bars to music festivals, becoming synonymous with the joie de vivre outlook on life.

However, this hasn’t always been the case. Tapping into gin’s darker past, co-creators Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood take on the role of two cabaret ‘broads’ exploring the spirits politically charged origins. Here I need to confess, I often shy away from audience interaction. If you suffer from the same disposition, do not be afraid: Marsden and Wood’s infectious thirst for fun is a fantastic tonic.

Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin / Patrick BolandFrom the moment I stepped into the small theatre at The Old Joint Stock I was greeted with the two female performers and their accompanist Tom Dickens, already on stage laughing and joking whilst swigging from bottles of the good stuff. Immediately the three had a competition going to sing the most inventive and humorous gin-pun infused songs. Some cracking ones were Madonna’s ‘Like a Vir-gin’ and Christina Aguilera’s ‘Ginny in a Bottle’.

The three performers have obvious chemistry and rapport, which was showcased in their rendition of the musical Cabaret’s ‘Two Ladies’. Here, Dickens became the stage emcee and sang, whilst playing the guitar ‘two ladies and one man’ complete with choreography that aped the original Bob Fosse film.

The set for Mother’s Ruin included a keyboard, silver velvet curtain as a backdrop, and a drinks table with empty glasses, bottles and cocktail shaker: clear signs that these three had been enjoying themselves well before we came along. Holding my free glass of boutique G&T, I felt suitably at home.

Interestingly, the duo opened their set with a revised rendition of the Lord’s Prayer that clearly set out their passion for gin and indoctrinated us into the church of ‘Mother’s Ruin’. Once the bluesy notes of the new ‘gin prayer’ had been sung, we were introduced to the ‘Holy Trinity’: gin, tonic and garnish. At this point, Marsden pulled out a tiny bottle from her bosom and poured the contents into a tumbler, whilst Wood bit off the end of a cucumber and spat it into her glass. Throughout the night both bosoms contained an endless supply of alcohol.

‘Mother’s Ruin’ – the often-quoted epithet for gin – suggests a history steeped in female oppression and women’s mental health; images like Hogarth’s ‘Gin Lane’ from the 1750s, which picture women lying in the gutter drunk from gin, led to this nickname being coined. Gin is steeped in anti-women mythology – something that Mother’s Ruin tries to explore and debunk.

Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret About GinThrough the medium of story-telling and singing, Mother’s Ruin starts the story with the 1729 gin craze which saw Londoners consume on average a litre of the liquor per week. With a feminist perspective, they challenge the images of ‘mother’s ruin’ by Hogarth and his ilk as propagandist, denouncing the painter and social critic as an advertiser working for a brewery. At this point, the facts come thick and fast; at times the performance felt bogged down by the sheer amount of history, but the musical story-telling helped keep the show moving.

One such moment was the story of Ada Coleman, who in 1903 was the first female barmaid in the ‘American bar’ at the Savoy Hotel. Coleman created the now infamous Hanky Panky cocktail which is still on the menu at the Savoy today. Sharing the recipe with us, Wood sang Amy Winehouse’s ‘You Know I’m No Good’ whilst Marsden concluded that Coleman was fired because the American men who frequented the Savoy during prohibition did not like being served by a woman. This was a poignant moment that caused the audience to sigh and gasp in shock from the evident struggles that women faced.

Mother’s Ruin not only highlights the complicated relationship between female suffrage and gin but also that of racism and British Imperialism. In a fantastically hilarious rendition of Peggy Lee’s ‘Fever’, all three performers told the story of how tonic water was invented; Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin / Patrick Bolandturning Lee’s song into ‘Malarial Fever’, Wood performed the song as an inebriated dying woman.

The suffering of white imperialists in the jungles of Peru urged people to find a remedy in the aid of quinine. Years later, the British Raj in India introduced quinine to sugar and added gin to produce the infamous gin and tonic. Of course this was only reserved for the privileged, which the performers quite rightly point out; throughout the witty interplay between the performers onstage banter, story-telling and music, Mother’s Ruin maintains a solid tribute to the adversity and suffering that lay behind the invention of the G&T.

As well as history, the performers have a fantastic mastery of all styles and genres of music from the honky-tonk blues to their a capella version of The Pretenders’ ‘Hymn to Her’. One of the most outrageous moments was the rap about how gin was invented; Tom Dickens spat some bars on the microphone,whilst Marsden and Wood threw themselves into rapping all things gin.

Ending the show with an American hoedown style song, the two women rapidly sang the names of every gin they have ever tasted – ultimately testifying to the Gin God their love and devotion to the drink. Mother’s Ruin have decided to save gin from its dark past and have succeeded.

For more on Mother Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin, visit www.mothersruincabaret.com

For more from The Old Joint Stock, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.oldjointstock.co.uk

BPREVIEW: Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin @ The Old Joint Stock 31.08-03.09.17

Words by Lucy Mounfield / Pics by Patrick Boland

Running from Thursday 31st August to Sunday 3rd September, Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin will tipsily explore the history of gin through a unique brand of story-telling, song and drinking the good stuff itself (with tonic) at The Old Joint Stock’s intimate theatre. The Old Joint Stock seems the perfect choice for Mother’s Ruin with the theatre above the pub.

Created and performed by Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood, Mother’s Ruin is coming straight from the Edinburgh Festival and London’s Underbelly Festival – pausing their run in Birmingham, before heading back on the festival tour circuit with Cabaret in the Glen on October 19th. Nominated for Best Cabaret (Fringe World Festival ) and Best Writing (Green Room Awards), Mother’s Ruin is a 60min cabaret, loosely blending a historical narrative with the hysterical happenings of two women who love drinking all things gin.

Beginning the story with 18th Century vaudeville London, Mother’s Ruin sings and drinks through the next 200 years of prohibition, New York speakeasies, the Australian bush, the jungles of Peru and a trip to India. Gin has had a rocky history – closely tied to colonization and women’s rights – which makes the renaissance of gin in recent years all the more interesting.

Throughout these stories Marsden and Wood weave in gin recipes, recount the origins to some of the world’s most famous cocktails, and give away tips on how to drink the spirit. With a gin researcher as part of the production team (Elly Baxter aka The Gintress), Mother’s Ruin takes the story of gin drinking quite seriously, mixing feminism and history to re-tell the story of this dubious tipple.

When I think of a cabaret nightclub, I picture a dark cavernous room with jazz music being played by a pianist at the stage; I think of people sitting elegantly, tapping their fingers rhythmically on the small round table they occupy, drinking gin with ice, a twist of orange, and a splash of tonic water. Gin, cabaret and music go hand in hand, so it’s no surprise that Mother’s Ruin combines all three. 

And if all this gin musing makes you thirsty, don’t fret as each ticket holder to Mother’s Ruin will be given a free glass of gin and tonic. During the UK tour of the show, the gin of choice has been Four Pillars Gin – an Australian boutique spirit, made with oranges and botanicals native to Australia and served with Fever Tree Tonic.

And if, like me, you couldn’t tell a boutique booze from supermarket schnapps don’t worry because Meave Marsden and Libby Wood do – facts I’m sure they will reveal to us whilst singing and drinking the night away.

‘I’ve Drunk Every Gin’ – from Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin


For more on Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin, visit www.mothersruincabaret.com 

For more from The Old Joint Stock, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.oldjointstock.co.uk