REVIEW – THE CABARET FORMERLY KNOWN AS BUCKET Thursday 12th March 2009 The Green Room, Manchester. 8pm.

The second of the revived Ida Bucket cabaret events staged at The Green Room, Whitworth Street, Manchester, following THE CABARET FORMERLY KNOWN AS BUCKET 1 had a wonderful cast of players, and I was honoured to perform here this time myself. The details on my own routine are not a review but my perception of how it feels to be a part of a delightful event I normally only get to see from the audience point of view.

Hostess, and compeer, Philippa Lee has worked hard to make the Cabaret work and with the programme and running order changing many times even to the last minute this was no easy task.

As I was going to appear myself, I didn’t keep notes of proceedings, so some of the details will be lost to the vagarities of memory and alcoholic stupor.

Philippa opened the show with assurances that the show’s mysterious benefactor would join us later, though as perhaps expected, he never did. We were also advised to curb our language as Philippa’s mum was in the audience, which naturally cued many performers to swear away and make grovelling apologies to the good lady.

MR. MAGIC, familiar to me from his appearances at the Slippery Belle Burlesques, (see BURLESQUE CONTENTS) presented some excellent conjuring tricks, (having already entertained and astounded many of us at the tables before the show commenced). He rightly ‘guessed’ someone’s astrology sign, (out of a possible twelve), and the right ‘imaginary pet’ from a list of three possible ones.

KASSANDRA KILLJOY did a stunning burlesque strip, looking like Marlene Dietrich dressed as a Western movie saloon girl, while singing Liza Minelli’s songs from Cabaret.

CHRIS FITZIMMONS, stepping in at short notice, prepared for a blind date with a male member of the audience, and it was impossible to tell how much of the very funny routine was improvised and how much had been pre-prepared.

GARTH GODFREY, one third of the LOS ZOMBINOS zombie Country & Western performers from the first Ida Bucket revival show performed a  very funny song and played a mean banjo.

The generous 30-minute interval gave me time to get a beer and start preparations for my own act, the second of part two.  I missed the two ladies presenting THE MONOPOLY OF NOISE act, as they were on immediately before me. The audience laughter was a clear indication that they were going down a storm though.

Then it was my turn – I went on in costume, as a Cthulhu chaos demon in love. The costume was created in 2003 in keeping with my short story, BLIND DATE, itself inspired by the work of my favourite horror story author, H. P. Lovecraft. (hence the name of the computer dating agency in my story). I waited on the stairs for my cue. As I was in a heavy latex mask with extremely limited peripheral vision, that was quite a tricky stairway to negotiate. That mask really chafes too. Not the most comfortable thing anyone can wear.

Though I have performed at the Green Room many times, this was mostly a very new audience for me, and many people there were highly talented performers in their own right, who I have reviewed in reviews like this. They were mostly seeing what I can do for the first time. I was more nervous than usual right up to going on, but the warm reception and appreciation I got made me more relaxed and happy. The sight of a hideous monster bearing flowers and trying to be all romantic rather than just wanting to rip people to pieces was essentially the theme of the story and the costume.

Story completed, I stripped out of the latex head-gear and lobster-claws (the nearest I was going to get to actually doing burlesque) and performed a poem. As many people in the audience know me (or have heard of me) as being a performance poet, I thought it was a good idea to do some verse. I finished with my signiture tune poem THE HIP-HOP CHIP SHOP, which also went down very well.

My set completed, I could relax and enjoy the rest of the show, and the next act was the second magician of the night, ALEX D. FISHER, assisted by LETHAL GEMMA. Alex performed alone at first, doing very clever and funny card tricks similar  to ones he had done in front of friends and myself during the interval. Sensing that the audience was hip to the nature of sleight of hand dexterity, he moved his hands all over, leaving many red-herring notions of where the card picked out and signed by the audience volunteer had gone, and then produced it from a tiny box that he hadn’t seemingly touched at all – Quite ingenious.  If that wasn’t enough, the work he did with Lethal Gemma was extra-ordinary. Gemma was invited to do a mind-reading act, and he wrapped her face and eyes in sticky tape to block her vision (treating her with mock brutality in doing so). Asking her what she saw in his hand as he produced a pair of scissors, she told the audience he was holding the microphone. (which of course, he was). After a succession of other inspired false guesses, the conjurer lost patience with his poor hapless assistant and stabbed her in the head with the scissors, at which point she was able to correctly identify what they were. She returned with Alex to take her bow and show that she was totally unharmed by the stunt.

With a closing burlesque dance and song by Kassandra Killjoy, the amazing evening came to an end, apart from drinking until the Green Room closed, and then for some of us, going to another bar until the early hours of the morning. 

The audience were lovely, and after my performance, many gave me very kind regards. One lady had seen my act before on her very first visit to the Green Room, in 2003, (the only other time I have done that particular set in the UK – I did it in Toronto, Canada at the Worldcon Science Fiction Convention, winning an award that was presented to me by Discworld author (now Sir) Terry Pratchett. The costume has also appeared with me (but without a story performance) at various Halloween and costuming events.

A huge thank you to everyone involved, especially Philippa Lee, without who The Cabaret would never have happened.

Arthur Chappell


The official Cabaret Formerly Known As Bucket website



Me in my costume, as photographed at Torcon 2003

Me in the suit, without the latex. -Almost a fancy dress costume in itself