Mother's Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin is exactly that: a cabaret about gin. For those who don't know, "mother's ruin" informally translates to "gin." Or rather, it originates back to the UK in the 1700s, where gin was a cheap way to forget your troubles (it's still effective.)
Songstresses Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood (with singer and piano accompaniment Jonathon Holmes) take the audience through an abridged history of gin. Why? Because they love gin, of course. They stated that their life was a quest to drink every kind of gin the world has to offer.
Gin doesn't exactly have what one would call a 'light' history, and the ladies don't sugarcoat it as they navigate through 18th century London where gin was the unintentional cause of economic instability, family problems and the intentional self-medication; the era of prohibition in New York speakeasies where sexism was rampant, to the jungles of Peru where gin was less self-medication and believed to be a substitute for actual medication, finally leaving us with the gin revolution, where you can put anything as a garnish in gin, so long as it tastes (more or less) good. The ladies might drink it anyway.
Of course, they also include the happier moments in gin history, such as when gin met its lover, tonic. They do so with dry humour, quick wit, in between taking bottles of gin out of their bras (they fit a LOT in there), and an impersonation of someone melodramatically dying of malaria, because nothing is sexier than that.
In between spoken history, Maeve, Libby, and Jonathon make themselves various gin drinks, and perform cabaret. Mother's Ruin features music by Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone, Merle Haggard, Martha Wainwright, Billy Joel, The Popes, The Pretenders, and more. Maeve and Libby's voices are the epitome of cabaret at its finest - with a richness, depth, and range that is transcendent. One is not better than the other, for their voices are complementary in a way that seems they were tailor-made for one another: they are powerful, captivating, beautifully emotive. Their ability to move between 'misery and vaudeville' in an instant is entrenched within their performance, keeping the audience utterly bewitched.
Mother's Ruin is enthralling, darkly comedic, and very impressive. Maeve, Libby and Jonathon enrich one another's individual performances until they are completely harmonious, creating something that's incomparable and original. For someone who doesn't even drink, I would strongly recommend this show.
Naturally, the instant they got a sing-a-long of Piano Man going ("makin' love to his tonic and gin"), they had the audience sold. You can't go back after singing Piano Man together.
Photos via Mother's Ruin Facebook.