‘It’s glorious,’ said Jonathan Eastwood, a member of the audience of Mother’s Ruin, whilst innocently enjoying a cigarette between acts. ‘I’m really glad that Queer Alternative Manchester has happened – if you’re in or out there’s always something for you’ he continued.
And it’s true, not only does Mother’s Ruin complement the weekend’s Pride celebrations but attracts theatre goers generally and this is mainly due to the talent on the stage and the warm welcome provided by performers and stage hands alike.
Manchester’s Roadhouse was packed with those who were obviously regulars. They felt no qualms dancing to the disco hits and Bond inspired themes that blared out prior to the start of the show whereas the rest of us newcomers twitched enviously where and when we could. Roaming the crowd was a nun named Sheila and her gimp who later I found was the friendliest Italian man you would wish to meet. He perched on the side of the stage for the majority of the evening throwing out waves and wide smiles to audience members he’d befriended, including me.Mrs JonJo – our host for the night was addictive. Not only did she ooze glamour and grace but she was refreshingly witty and at ease with her own comic talent. ‘We’re prepped and primed and we’re sparkling’ was the last line Mrs JonJo threw out to the crowd before the start – and we all nestled into our places smugly because if she says we’re sparkling – well then we must be.
The crowd marvelled at the performers’ ability to entertain such a large crowd on such a small stage in such a small venue. Acts such as Tilly Skreams took to the stage – a Lady Gaga lookalike who performed an impressive dance routine to ‘Rumour’ by Chloe Howl, lip syncing as she did. Another noteworthy act was Bushpig, a musical comedy act fronted by Mary-Lou Cougar, a Southern States country girl who sang her way through ingenious lyrics poking fun at prejudice whilst portraying herself as a simple country bumpkin who couldn’t quite handle the complexity of her own argument. This act provoked whoops and numerous fist pumps even before Mary-Lou had chance to round-up her song. ‘You’re a boozy floozie’ the crowd sang back to the band as they accompanied Mary-Lou in some of her best known lyrics.
The evening’s spectators were wowed by various artists such as Pam Van Damned, a great crowd pleaser, somehow portraying the art of smashing up watermelons as something elegant and highly complex. Others included Sheela Bilge, David Hoyle and Jade Montserrat who, in the style of Dita Von Teese, performed her own style of dance which was either interpretive or modern – either way the applause was louder than ever. An act would take their bow and another would reappear as you’d silently agree with yourself that this one, on stage right now, was your favourite, leaving you at the end of the night with all the performances somehow squashed into your top three.
It’s rare that you’d ever see such an obvious connection between artist and audience, (primary school nativity’s exempt), but somehow Mother’s Ruin accomplishes it in such a way that it stands out from the general theatre experience. It’s the mutual appreciation of both parties which makes the touring company of Mother’s Ruin original, but it’s the talent on stage that makes the reality exceptional.
Guest article by Rose oOdson