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Mish Mash

Laura Marsden on a bunch of 'mad!' cabaret artists at Bury Met

Published on June 24th 2009.

Mish Mash

Mish Mash is a new night of ‘weird cabaret’ held once a month at Bury Met and other venues across the North West. I went along to the first one expecting to witness fabulously unusual acts. ‘Weird cabaret’ suggests to me bizarre glamour; a jazzy dance troupe dressed as fruit perhaps, or a drag queen eating dog dirt.

If I was a GCSE drama teacher and my students came out with this giddy overacting and snobbishness, I’d absolutely bollock them within an inch of their lives, hand in my resignation, and then kill myself.

But then, it’s in Bury and, according to the press release, the event has been masterminded by the type of people who say, at parties and job interviews, ‘I’m mad, me.’ And they’re partly right. They are mad. But not, alas, in a maniacally charismatic way. It is more a kids TV presenter brand of madness. These are the sort of people who paint their kitchen orange, shout about it in a really irritating way, and then think they own the keys to the kooky house.

The evening begins with an acoustic number from the ska-punk Rochdale five piece, Bye Bye Johnny. This is good. But not weird.

When they have finished, a lunatic who calls himself Kelvin bounces on to the stage and bleats in a gratingly camp West Country accent. He makes references to ‘medication’ and ‘care in the community’, you know – coz he’s really weird and mad and stuff? What is weird is that the majority of the audience are pissing their pants and laughing their heads off. I’m just sliding further down in my seat with my buttocks clenched in embarrassment.

He introduces the next act – the MAD Theatre Company – who are going to take us to ‘a car wash in Harpurhey.’ This company consists of two girls and a boy who have been sitting at the front guffawing throughout Kelvin’s intro. I’m really hoping that MAD is an acronym of their names – Marjorie, Alice and Denzil?

The truth is that the MAD Theatre Company are three performing arts students who think it is both MAD and hilarious to dress up as ‘scallies’ and reel off a load of ancient stereotypes about working class life. One of the girls has a cushion stuffed up her top to imitate late pregnancy and the lad begins the sketch with his hands down his pants. They flick through a copy of Heat magazine whilst making ‘jokes’ about how one character’s grandmother is 29, they had chips for tea and a taxi driver they know, smells.

This is sub-Little Britain cat sick. It is so stupid it makes my eyes water with anger. If I was a GCSE drama teacher and my students came out with this giddy overacting and snobbishness, I’d absolutely bollock them within an inch of their lives, hand in my resignation, and then kill myself. They obviously think they’re really funny and so much cleverer than the people they are mocking and it’s just awful.

Next up is writer/performer Rachael McGuinness who does witty Pam Ayres style poems in different accents. She performs three numbers which are amusing and well written. It strikes me as wildly old-fashioned to perform these comic poems but it’s actually alright. She’s obviously got some talent and it’s inspiring to see how she has put this set together. The last character she does is Kelvin the compere’s sister, so she is joined on stage by him at the end and they dance to Dizzy Rascal’s ‘Bonkers.’

My companion wants to leave at the interval but I force her to stay. Bye Bye Johnny perform a song which outlines their desire to burn Rochdale to the ground. (Understandable, although somewhat lacking in civic pride. I blame Rochdale Council who, in contrast to Bury Council, make mistakes at every opportunity. A comparative study of the towns’ bus stations bolsters this claim.)

Kelvin comes back on and introduces Julia Brosnan. Now this woman is genuinely quirky and she knows it but, thankfully, doesn’t go on about it. Neurotically, like a Woody Allen character, she introduces herself and talks about why she is single. She then goes on to perform a sort of rap called ‘Mr Whippy’ which is about the ice-cream/an ex-partner. Her rhythm is all over the place and her voice seems slightly strained, unaccustomed to performance. But it is quite funny and endearing. It is a bit like watching someone’s mum doing a L’il Wayne impression. She also throws in some salsa moves which adds to the charm.

It is good that people are making the effort to put things on in small theatres like Bury Met. Most of the acts were entertaining and seemed to genuinely love what they were doing which made the evening worthwhile.

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CubbyJune 24th 2009.

Has that last paragraph been shonkily stitched on? It doesn't feel like it fits with the rest of the piece.

DidsburyGirlJune 24th 2009.

I agree, that last paragraph does seem rather contradictory and sounds almost scripted. Did the Editor not like the first draft?

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