Raise a glass to gin-soaked cabaret Mother's Ruin
Fran Gibson | On 23, Sep 2018
‘It’s a good time though!’ exclaims blonde bombshell Libby Wood to a concurring crowd. As one half of Mother’s Ruin – one third if we count Jeremy on piano’s speakeasy charm – she could be describing her own show.
How to keep an audience entertained for over an hour with a show about a drink? Gin, AKA mother’s ruin, isn’t such implausible subject matter given the depths musical theatre has previously plumbed for inspiration: the dullest episode of the French revolution; the crucifixion; cats.
Proving there’s mileage in gin’s chequered past (more so than in a child’s train set, Andrew Starlight Express Lloyd Webber), creators and stars Libby Wood and Maeve Marsden, beguile the audience through a picaresque rampage – from William Hogarth’s Gin Lane to Peru under Spanish colonialism to Brisbane’s very own Regatta Hotel.
Historical factoids and vignettes pinball off tenuously connected songs. Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ is spine-tingling in three-part harmony. The audience is in silent reverie after an a capella rendition of The Pretender’s ‘Hymn to Her’. A gin-themed version of Aussie classic ‘I’ve Been Everywhere’ is a raucous hit.
The pace is unrelenting but not every song is a winner. Amy Winehouse’s ‘You Know I’m No Good’ reinforces her absence and a burlesque reworking of ‘Fever’ left me, paradoxically, cold. But no matter if you don’t care for the current song; another will rattle along in a minute.
Mother’s Ruin works best when the charismatic performers interact with the audience. A sing-a-long of Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ is joyful, as is the weaving of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ into ‘Oom-Pah-Pah’ from Oliver (‘It would really help if you were called Sally for this verse’).
Mother’s Ruin is rude, risque, educational – that’s what navy strength means – and a whole lot of fun. As welcome as a G&T at happy hour.
What Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin
Where La Boite Roundhouse Theatre, 6-8 Musk Avenue, Kelvin Grove, QLD 4059
When 18 – 22 September as part of the Brisbane Festival
Cost $34 – 37
Other information Suitable for audiences of 18+