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Mother's Ruin (Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Venue: Contact
Where: Manchester

Moving home is always a chaotic affair and the relocation of Manchester’s gloriously raucous cabaret Mother’s Ruin from the recently closed greenroom to nearby-neighbour Contact, is no exception.

Prior to greenroom’s closure back in May, Mother’s Ruin regularly showcased the best in LGBTQ cabaret, comedy and variety at the venue. After an enforced hiatus, the event is back, having found a new home at Contact.

On the night I attended, there were live performances from Brian Lobel and Bryony Kimmings (still hot from a critically acclaimed run at the Edinburgh festival), video works from Dickie Beau and free hair weaves for the up-for-it audience from Jon-Jo’s Weave Bar.

With performances taking place in and around Contact’s foyer and bar area, performers mingle with audience as the line between performance and party are blurred. Regular host Timberlina, resplendent in 6 inch stilettos and full beard, herds the eager audience from space to space with relative ease while Contact’s technical team race around doing a sterling job of keeping up with Mother’s boundless energy.

Performing a number of comedic musical numbers from her shows ‘Sex Idiot’ and ‘7 Day Drunk’, headliner Bryony Kimmings was suitably energetic and in-yer-face: a lurex-clad Centurian spouting flinchingly-honest truths to the sounds of a keytar. The undoubted highlight of the event was Brian Lobel’s ‘HORA’, an interactive piece in which the audience are invited to learn an Isreali folk dance as the artist informs us of its personal significance (don’t worry, there is a punch-line and it’s as hilarious as it is heartfelt) before recording us so that he can send the tape to his old instructor back in New York. Lobel’s warm and familiar address is what makes this piece such a success: we all feel like friends. For anyone interested in the idea of the performed-self, this is a master-class.

If it’s a traditional night out to see a traditional piece of theatre that you’re looking for, then give Mother’s Ruin a wide berth. However, if you want to see and be a part of something that is unique, unpredictable and pulsing with life then get down to this event. Yes it’s manic and bumpy, but settling into a new home always is. I left the building to the strains of the resident DJ playing Ella Fitzgerald’s "The Lady is a Tramp": oh Mother, yes she is, but it doesn’t half suit her.

 - Sara Cocker


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