Tag: Libby Wood


Scintillatingly clever and funny

By Bradley Storer

Not being a big gin-drinker myself, I was worried initially that a show entirely about gin would fly straight over my head. I was put at ease straight away upon entering the venue to find the performers jauntily jamming away onstage about groanworthy gin puns to the laughter of the audience – I may not be a gin connoisseur, but I AM a lover of bad puns.

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After the show proper began, we were introduced to performers and writers Libby Wood and Maeve Marsden along with their token male accompanist, indie cabaret star Tom Dickins, in a riotous Kander and Ebb number complete with hilariously minimal choreography before we shot off on a rocketing ride through the varied and colourful history of gin.

Wood and Marsden guide us through industrial revolution London, into the Peruvian jungles and all the way through to the modern day, utilizing music from artists such as Amy Winehouse, Peggy Lee and Nina Simone re-arranged into scintillating three-way harmonies, along with a few choice moments of beat-boxing and the uniquely titled ‘malarial burlesque’. Wood and Marsden’s voices blend and meld beautifully together in harmony, but both are equally capable of unleashing powerful vocals in their solo spots.

What is so striking about the show is how it examines the interconnection of gin, which stereotypically was believed to have been produced and consumed primarily by Industrial-era women, with historical patterns of misogyny and the disempowerment of women that continued deep into the 20th century. While played mostly for laughs, hearing the stories of women throughout the ages subtly suggests that the ‘mother’s ruin’ of the title is not in fact gin, but patriarchal oppression itself as it grinds women down to nothing. When Marsden lets loose an iconic and expletive-filled Martha Wainwright song, the withering lyric ‘I will not put on a smile / I will not say I’m all right for you’ feels like the rage-filled cry of women throughout history spilling forth in defiant indignation.

An hilarious comedy-cabaret with a cunningly concealed sociological undercurrent, it is easy to see why Mother’s Ruin has been enjoying sell-out seasons across the country and we can only hope for even more success for such an original and creatively executed show!

Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin played at The Box, Map 57, Jacka Blvd, St Kilda VIC 3182 from 19 – 21 July, 2017.

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.

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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