Tag: 2016 Melbourne Cabaret Festival

Melbourne Cabaret Festival 2016: MOTHER’S RUIN

Sublimely intoxicating

By Myron My

It’s no accident that a cabaret show about the history of that sordid spirit, gin, would instantly have attracted my interest. After all, who wouldn’t be interested in a cabaret show that deals with sexism, misogyny, colonialism and propaganda? That’s right, the history of gin covers all these issues and with Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin, not only are we educated on these but also remain constantly highly entertained.

Mothers Ruin.jpg

Performers and co-creators Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood have joined forces with Sydney-based gin aficionado Elly Baxter from The Ginstress, who has been writing about gin since 2012. This collaboration allows the audience to hear more of the lesser-known facts of this beloved beverage, ensuring we are always interested and intrigued by what is being revealed.

Marsden and Wood have a commanding presence on stage, and being part of feminist cabaret group Lady Sings It Better, they are no strangers to the performance space. They share a strong rapport with each other and their banter is highly engaging and natural. The audience is easily brought on-side and after a cheeky performance of Lionel Bart’s “Oom Pah Pah”, we have no option but to succumb to the sweet elixir of gin – and these ladies.

The variety of songs the two cover, which have been re-written to link to historic moments in gin consumption, are creative, daring and full of flair. Wood’s rendition of “Fever” in reference to the use of the alcohol to help combat malaria is not only vocally sublime but a stroke of comedy genius. Marsden’s performance of Martha Wainwright’s “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole” is possibly the best song I have seen performed in a cabaret.

Joining Marsden and Wood on stage is musical director and skillful pianist and vocalist, Jeremy Brennan, whose cover of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” had the entire venue erupt in a sing-a-long where it was very easy to picture everyone raising their glasses to the air with copious amounts of gin spilling everywhere. It’s not often that an entire audience can forget they are watching a performance and feel like they are just a communal group of people out together having some fun, but that moment was one of those unique theatre experiences.

Mother’s Ruin may be a loving ode to a favourite spirit, but you do not need to be a gin drinker to appreciate its brilliance. With the show closing this weekend at the well-matched Butterfly Club, I highly recommend dropping any other weekend plans you might have and booking tickets for this. Go for the excellent show and stay for the delicious drinks; it will be one of the most enjoyable experiences you can currently have in Melbourne.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: Until 19 June | 8.30pm
Tickets: $36 Full | $30 Conc
The Butterfly Club

Melbourne Cabaret Festival: #FIRSTWORLDWHITEGIRLS

Ignorance is cabaret bliss

By Myron My

It’s been two years since Melbourne was graced with the presence of Tiffany and Kendall, two affluent white girls who have some major problems to deal with. Problems like 2-in-1 shampoo, and being invited out but having to decline because their phones are still charging. Inspired by the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems, Judy Hainsworth and Kaitlin Oliver Parker are back with their comedy cabaret #FirstWorldWhiteGirls.


This trust fund princess and day-drinking trophy wife express the difficulties they regularly encounter through a number of entertaining original songs, each one showing not only their ignorance of the world but also the extremities of their privilege. Frighteningly enough, there are times when the things they say easily remind us of someone we know, or even ourselves. When they announce to the audience that “we are you”, they could in fact be correct, regardless of sex, race or gender.

The musical numbers bring forth some brilliant performances with clever lyrics that deservedly receive many laughs. The highlights of the evening though belong to a song about the most recent trend in cosmetic surgery (to tell you would ruin half the fun) and Tiffany’s “love song” to a suitor begging him to please not ask her out. The heart-rending ballad on FOMO is also a great moment that shows just how important these seemingly trivial problems can be for some people.

It’s between the songs however where some jokes falter and punchlines are either predictable or not as strong as what they could be. At one point, we are told that you can never go too far for the perfect body, but if this maxim applies in terms of their humour, the envelope is severely pushed with Hainsworth and Parker making some ordinarily questionable jokes around World War 2 and the adoption of children of colour. However, as these type of offensively ignorant thoughts and observations are in line with how Tiffany and Kendall live their lives, they actually succeed in pointing out exactly how out of touch with reality these girls are.

Hainsworth and Parker have been performing as Tiffany and Kendall for a number of years now, and often there is a sense of familiarity evident, that comes with getting to know a character you have created over time. Unfortunately on the evening I attended, I could not see this on stage and was personally left wanting a stronger fusion between performer and character. Despite this, there is still a good dose of laughs and enjoyment in #FirstWorldWhiteGirls that reminds us just how lucky we actually are.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne 
Season: Until 19 June | 7pm 
Tickets: $32 Full | $28 Conc 
Bookings: The Butterfly Club