AdultCabaretFestive 15/16North WestReview

Mother’s Ruin: Christmas Cracker! – Contact, Manchester

Reviewer: Stephen M Hornby

Mother’s Ruin returned to Contact for its Christmas special and provided the audience with a wonderful cornucopia of contrasts to usher in the festive season. The quality and diversity of the acts was once again impressive. The night has tried some other venues out but it seems to nestle perfectly in the downstairs stage at Contact, which allows space for it to breath as an edgy cabaret that wouldn’t be out of place in Weimar Germany.

Timberlina provided a wryly witty host, punctuating the evening with amusing ditties about the need for a sturdy pair of walking boots come the end of the world and our self-defeating addictive love of packing at Christmas. Cheddar Gorgeous opened and closed the night with strongly themed and contrasting pieces. The opening number was arranged around the song I’m Horny, a pun on the reindeer themed costume that Gorgeous was almost wearing. For the final piece, Gorgeous presented himself in an incredible costume as a fallen Christmas Angel, who might have been one of Satan’s fellow fallen angels from Milton’s Paradise Lost. Gorgeous is an inspired and beautiful creation, but both pieces had dark undercurrents, suggesting that there is always a price to paid for viewing any fabulous creature.

Charlotte Victoria Furness brought the evening back brilliantly to our everyday concerns: boyfriends and biscuits. The ukulele playing singer demonstrates a wonderfully warm wit and every song has plenty of laugh out loud lines, such as ‘Your love’s like eating a healthy biscuit. It’s dry and makes we want to cry.’ There are moments of pathos in the songs, but Furness avoids any saccharine sentiment in a finely judged performance. Gerry Potter Poet closes the first half with a mesmerising performance of some of his best material. ‘The Effeminate Child’ takes a bullied and marginalised character and turns him into a hero to be celebrated, venerated even as he grows old but keeps a unique and defiant twinkle in his eye. Potter can make strong written material fly with his performances and held a room, even by now a slightly drunk room, in the palm of his hand as his poems twisted and turned: a highlight of the evening.

The second half of the evening presented two acts which were perhaps more of a specific taste. Fat Roland uses series of comic illustrations to tell jokes about music. His topic and style are particular and a section of the audience found them really amusing. The list of his internet browsing history one drunken, lonely evening was more successful broader material and told a hilarious story of the failed stalking of Isaac. Tom Marshman created three comic characterisations based on a holiday he’d taken in Lanzarote. The characterisations of Bill, Doris and Susan were immediately believable and well observed with a really precise vernacular use of language.

Mother’s Ruin: A Christmas Cracker was a cracking show indeed. This night is always a showcase of the best queer performance, giving you a lot of what you know you like and some surprises that you didn’t know you did.

Reviewed Friday 11 December 2015 | Image: Contributed

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