An eclectic mix of mediums, humour and Claire’s finest eye-shadows, Mother’s Ruin offered Manchester and the Contact Theatre a dazzling cabaret of transvestism, drugs, artsy-pretentiousness and queer nostalgia.
Opening with its strongest sketch, all qualms and apprehensions evaporated completely – the evaporation process already having been kick-started by an unprofessional amount of gin beforehand. Through tears of laughter the audience watched as Mrs JonJo narrated and acted out the story of titanic, such narration and acting mirroring each other and exacerbating the simplicity of the performer apparent from the out with the proclamation that she was going to do her play. Taking on the role of Rose, both teen and centenarian (‘I’m an old lady, and I have … a memory’) and with the help of a care-bear in the role of Jack, she took us through the mammoth epic in some eight minutes; from Jack saving Rose from doing herself in to Rose leaving the posh party and marvelling the commoners below with her ballet-abilities. Closing the piece with refusing to allow Jack onto the floating door, (‘perspective … it looks bigger from the distance’) and finally bestowing upon the audience a belled rendition of Celine’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’, it was clear that further gin was needed to accompany what was sure to be a great night.
As expected, and very much welcomed, the majority of the acts consisted of musical serenade; from Mr Teds’ homage to the drug fuelled memories of the great Whitney (‘It’s not crack, but it’s okay, I’m gonna take it anyway’) to Joyce Division contenting the miserable teens of the eighties and pretentious hipsters of the noughties with such classics as ‘Isolation’ and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. It’s what one could possibly have anticipated beforehand and yet when presented to them, and through one’s own laughter, the realisation that it’s both more than what one had anticipated and nothing like what one had expected only produced for a sweeter and more enjoyable evening.
Everything about the performance was loud; from the hair to the boobs to the heels to the laughs. And it was such grandeur in the small cabaret space that allowed for an entertaining and accomplished performance. The distinctions between live-singing and altered-miming, and playful mockery and ‘honest’ rendition in the live musical pieces, alongside the use of film and Zsa Zsa Noir’s effortless abilities in hosting allowed for a collection of entertaining, hilarious and astute skits.
There is little doubt as to performers’ continued successes individually, each possessing qualities which are sure to continue to enthral, which is what made for such a sweet pleasure and privilege in being permitted a raw and intimate viewing.
Mother’s Ruin will be returning to Manchester 8-9 June at the Royal Exchange Theatre with Mother’s Ruin: Puffball Cabaret.