Mothers Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin is wickedly dark a seductive performance that retraces the story of one of history’s arguably most iconic drinks. From the times of prohibition in London circa 1751 to more recent times, the factual referencing of Gin that are found dotted throughout this performance proves central to the works success. There is a level of detail that seeps out of every facet of this delicious performance. But if you scratch a little deeper you discover that this performance is perhaps on a secondary level; focused on dealing also with themes surrounding feminism not just in the here and now but, as with much of this performance, in the historical sense. All together it provides greater perspective to both the narrative and to the performance in a broader context.
Musically, the performance weaves together songs made famous by the likes of Shirley Bassey, The Pretenders and even Martha Wainwright. The arrangement is second to none, from the outset it is successful in creating a cracking rhythm of which continues throughout. Relying on such iconic songs has allowed for a sense of comradery with the audience, at one point, they joined with the performers in a rousing rendition of Piano Man. As with many cabaret performances, audience participation was in some scenes central to the work, but what helped propel this device beyond “the norm”, was the infectious sense of energy and fun.
The voices of Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood are both soulful, with an impressive range, that is allowed to shine through the slick arrangement and musical direction given by Jeremy Brennan, their knock out vocals only matched by their onstage deliverance, energy and sheer sassiness- of which the give out in spades.
Jeremy Brennan, who joins both Marsden and Libby in Mothers Ruin tying the whole experience together on piano accompaniment, brings another dimension to this performance, and provides just the right level of “spunk” with his on stage persona.
Not relying on lighting or any other theatrical bells and whistles in turn helps expose just how polished this work is, and others can be, if there is a tight narrative and well thought out concept from which a performance is built around. This show is quality, no two ways about it, possibly the best cabaret performance of 2016, easily proving that there is life and indeed talent outside of Melbourne’s ever buzzing scene, it sets a bench mark high, and is a great point of reference for other aspiring cabaret performers and producers.
Mothers Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin is playing at The Butterfly Club until Sunday the 19th of June, be sure to check it out, book your tickets here