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Mothers Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin

Home > Melbourne > Comedy | Community Events | Indoor | Music | Nightlife
by Samsara (subscribe)
I am a director, playwright, and theatre critic with a Masters in Writing for Performance. You can check out my my portfolio and musings at
Published July 19th 2017
Get a glass of dutch courage and join in the fun
In another adventure into the winter debauchery of entertainment about great liquors, I will let you in on the hilarious cabaret Mothers Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin. Mothers Ruin is playing at Map 57 in St Kilda from 19 - 23 July.

Mothers Ruin, A Cabaret About Gin, Gin, Tom Dickins, Libby Wood, Maeve Marsden
Libby Wood, Maeve Marsden, and Tom Dickins

Billed as a show 'equal parts historical and hysterical', a more accurate advertising copy has never been seen. Libby Woods, Maeve Marsden and Tom Dickins take us through the (not always completely accurate) history of gin through the library of songs which are - or which they would like to be - about gin.

Whilst songs such as 'Ginny In A Bottle' and 'Billie Gin' might be a bit of a stretch, the show brings back some great historical airs about a drink which dates back to at least the 15th century. Couple that with vocals of a quality so very rarely heard anywhere in the world and harmonies and song play beyond most human beings and Mothers Ruin becomes a night to be remembered.

Mothers Ruin, A Cabaret About Gin, Gin, Tom Dickins, Libby Wood, Maeve Marsden
Maeve Marsden, Tom Dickins, and Libby Woods

Mother's Ruin is what I like to call a creeper. As we enter Marsden, Woods and Dickins seem to be in a casual conversation amongst themselves huddled around the piano, swilling a drink or two. As the audience settle, they open up their conversation. First, it becomes audible, then they open the circle and eventually they start including us and talking to us. A great technique although perhaps more suited to a real cabaret venue where the audience are sitting around tables and where the performers can wander and be intimate with the patrons rather than the raised stage of The Box.

By the time they sing 'The Gin Threesome' the show is in full bloom though and the juniper berries really start jumping. We are regaled with stories about how the saying 'dutch courage' came about and what navy strength gin really is. I should mention there is some artistic licence in the history but when it leads to great one liners on what Gunpowder Gin is the payoff makes playing with the facts more than worthwhile!

Mothers Ruin, A Cabaret About Gin, Gin, Tom Dickins, Libby Wood, Maeve Marsden, The Gin Shop, Cruikshank
The Gin Shop - Cruikshank

The tone does get a bit more serious as Woods and Marsden tell us of how gin is historically linked to the demonisation and domination of women. They also talk about the link between gin & tonic and the sordid history of colonisation. All of this tension is released as they get back to enjoying this mighty liquor and the finale 'I've Drunk Every Gin' brings the night to a riotous close.

Gather your own Dutch courage, imbibe in a glass of Mother's Ruin to ward off the cold night air and head on down to Map 57 to learn everything you need to know (and a few things you don't need to know) about gin. Catch a ride on the ferris wheel and go for a spin in the ice skating rink while you are there. Just one note of caution: in the show they say gin has been proven not to cause depression. This is true. No alcohol causes depression but all alcohols (including gin) are a depressant so drink to have a good time and don't make it a hard time for everyone else.

3.5 Stars
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*Samsara was invited as a guest
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Why? Laugh and sing along to the history of gin.
When: 19 - 23 July 2017
Phone: 03 8609 1015
Where: Map 57, 1 The Esplanade, St Kilda
Cost: From $33
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