CabaretFeaturedReviewSouth East

BRIGHTON FRINGE: The World in Words and Music, According to Coward and Porter – The Warren: The Oilshed

Reviewer: Simon Topping 

By: Mark Inscoe

Mark Inscoe presents an evening of song and fine wit as he explores the intertwining careers of two great show business talents of the twentieth century, Cole Porter and Noel Coward; deftly accompanied by Joshua Mills on the piano. 

The stage is simply adorned with a piano, globe, seating and a sophisticated looking plant. It feels like the audience are being welcomed into a private members club, one where anyone who has exceptional taste, is accepted. Inscoe continues the feeling of this warm hello as starts to tell us the story of Cole and Noel’s beginnings which soon leads into a song. 

Engaging fully with each section of the venue, drawing the crowd in with his charm and strong theatrical voice, he sings the Coward classic Let’s Do it, adding a funny 2021 addendum to the song, acknowledging the difficulties of the pandemic in regards to love making. It is a winning start to a fabulous hour of musings and music. 

Inscoe has over thirty years professional experience as a West End actor and cabaret performer and it shows. He also performs internationally as Dean Martin, which accounts for the fantastic, smooth voice we are subjected to this evening. His performance is masterful and he captivates the crowd throughout every moment of the piece. 

Coward and Porter’s music and words really shine and show that they stand the test of time, as Inscoe explores the material. Cowards’ witticisms are just as easily able to raise a laugh as they were at the time of their origination, almost one hundred years ago. It is nice to see that a contemporary crowd, albeit populated by those forty years old plus, in the main, still appreciate the humour and catchy tunes today, even though they are now from a bygone era. 

As the night progresses we are treated to more gems from the catalogue of the two songsmiths. Nina for Argentina makes an appearance to great laughter and Coward’s Mad Dogs and English is a particular favourite of the appreciative audience. 

Rediscovering the lyrics of these acerbic tunes is a joy, it is just a shame that, due to Covid, we cannot squeeze into the dark corner of an elegant cocktail bar to enjoy this captivating performance.  It seems Inscoe would love to be in amongst his people, creating a more intimate atmosphere, to ramp up the fun further. However, he does the best he can, despite the conditions, and at the end of the show, leaves the stage with the crowd most definitely wanting more.  A fabulously refined evening’s entertainment.

Reviewed on 3rd June  

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One Comment

  1. Loved this show thought it was sophisticated and clever
    Don’t know who was responsible for the layout and design of the oil shed and environs but NOT thought out and
    Awful !!!! space wasted no noise control – too many staff doing nothing-
    What a shame !

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