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REVIEW: Mother's Ruin - A Cabaret about Gin

By Kyle Walker

Mother's Ruin - A Cabaret about Gin.
Mother's Ruin - A Cabaret about Gin.

Eden Court, Inverness

Saturday, April 28 (7pm)


I CAN’T lie to you, dear reader – as somebody who’s been teetotal for four months now, I worried that this booze-soaked celebration of the UK’s favourite spirit might have proved a little too one note and ultimately too difficult to swallow.

The free gin offered outside the OneTouch theatre, the 80 bottles of various gins adorning a table on the stage – and a pre-show raffle with the winner getting a bottle of...well, you can guess – didn’t exactly do a lot to assuage those fears.

But I’m happy to be so wrong – on a Saturday night, Mother’s Ruin offered up the most fun that one could have with gin that doesn’t end with lying in the gutter.

As much a celebration of the classic cabaret traditions as it was a celebration of the devil’s juice, Libby Wood and Maeve Marsden – with pianist Jeremy Brennan – gave a bawdy, raucous and fascinatingly political run through of gin’s history through song, stories and the odd joke involving a cucumber.

Mother’s Ruin is a show that places gin in the context of history – its demonization in the mid 18th Century, the way that the Gin Act disproportionately targeted women (only 20 per cent of illegal distillers were women, yet they made up 70 per cent of convictions), the way that quinines’s discovery tied in with Spanish colonialism.

It burns through all of this at a lightning pace – one of cabaret’s great gifts has always been its ability to leave an audience giddy with the amount of stuff a show packs in – and punctuates these moments with a catalogue of songs from artists including Amy Winehouse, Martha Wainwright and Sia,

Bringing all of these disparate elements together, Mother’s Ruin managed to distil what theatre is all about, crafting a tantalising mixture of entertainment and education to please any palate.

What did you think? Comment below or tweet Kyle: @spp_kwalker

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