I was planning to go and watch this show, having been to previous Bucket cabarets and having been in the second event myself – See THE CABARET FORMERLY KNOWN AS BUCKET 2

 It was only on the Monday night, three days before the show that I was asked to be in the cast again. I was delighted and quickly said yes. I spent the next few days preparing material to perform, and my costume, or rather my uniform, as I planned on using my English Civil War pikeman’s re-enactment gear from my Sealed Knot re-enactment activities.

I arrived nice and early on the night, and some friends and other performers were already there too. Everything was very relaxed and pleasant.  I put my uniform in the changing area once I knew I wasn’t on until part two of the show, and chilled out.

CAROLYN O’HANLON Rehearsed her opening act, and it was obvious she was going to be sensational.

It looked as if attendance would be low right to the brink of the show when quite a lot more people arrived and at about 8.15 pm, the show started.

The Lovely Philippa Lee, aka, Poppy, was our compeer, who always seems to feel as if she doesn’t know enough jokes and anecdotes to be able to M/C, but she is actually very good as a presenter, natural, witty, and never barbed or cynical – she helps to make the performers and the audience feel very welcome

The first performer was CAROLYN O’HANLON presenting the same songs as she had in rehearsal, a presentation and as I expected, she got the show off to a tremendous start.

She was followed by BABS-SHEBA, a belly dancer. Normally one of a troupe of performers, she gave a bold and lovely solo performance swirling veils and tinkling bells. Philippa later reminded us that we had seen the lady before at the cabarets – she is Philippa’s Mum.

CHRIS FITzSIMMONS, a regular Bucket performer, followed, managing to do a Pet Shop Boys number despite the microphone stand from Hell, slipping down slowly floor-wards despite his and Philippa’s efforts to secure it – He quickly just went with its descent, singing at a crouch, on his knees and eventually flat on his back – leaving the audience in stitches both at his routine and ability to improvise around the equipment failure and not have it ruin his act in the slightest.

The Mic was secured properly to spare other acts similar struggles and the next artistes were another Bucket favourite LOS ZOMBINOS the zombie rockabilly Country & Western trio, singing of the joys of the hunt for brains, and their fear of carrion crows.

A twenty-minute drinks break gave me time to get changed for my own act – a transformation I completed just before the show started up again. LETHAL GEMMA, normally a burlesque dancer and magician’s assistant, was performing as a singer, and she went down a storm with songs like ‘I’m Just A Girl Who Can’t Say No’. 

I watched Gemma from half way up the stairs between the ground floor and the mezzanine floor used as the staging area for previous Bucket cabarets. Using the bar area created a lively informal atmosphere for audience and performers alike.

Philippa introduced me and I walked down to stand behind the mic. I was trying to look very serious and deadpan, pretending to be a puritanical soldier of the Civil War period, but it’s very hard to stay stern faced with everyone laughing and having fun.

I unfurled my initial reading sheet, to perform INVITATION, more a work of prose than poetry, but my heavy gloves wouldn’t cope with the scroll, so I slipped one glove off, ‘burlesque’ style, and presented the piece as straight-faced as I could. It worked well, and now I was able to lighten up to present other verse, which was very well received, and everyone was very kind to me with his or her applause and enthusiastic Hurrahs (That would have been Huzzah in the 17th century).

 CHRIS FITzSIMMONS returned with a bizarre and hysterical act, trying to sing a song called colours while two people picked from the audience were called on to rummage through a bag of BDSM props, and put the items on him as he sang. Chris found himself manacled, stuck into a gimp mask and handcuffed to a stair rail. Quickly exhausting the bag’s supplies, his enthusiastic tormenters improvised and added flowers and various ornaments from the tables around the Green Room, and there was a shrill note of panic from Chris as he wondered what might be added next, but he coped very well.

Philippa mercifully released him from the various traps when he finished (provoking some amusement at how easily she managed to open the cuffs, etc) and it was time for the final cabaret set from LOS ZOMBINOS, who sang, among other songs, a parody of a Muller Rice advert song, and pointed out the similarity between a well mixed Muller Raspberry yoghurt and freshly scooped human brains, probably putting many of the audience off the yoghurts for life. One of the singers took to staring out the window at a taxi driver waiting for passengers over the road from The Green Room, which must have worried the poor chap somewhat, seeing a zombie keeping a beady eye on him. The make up effects the singers used are excellent.

Philippa drew the evening to a close with thanks to all the acts, and the lovely Green Room bar staff, before telling us that our mysterious benefactor, (promised as definitely coming this time) was obliged to go off and perform open-heart surgery on route and therefore failed to make it yet again. Philippa also announced that she is stepping down as the Bucket cabaret’s main compeer, which made many of us a little sad as she has poured so much time and energy into reviving the show and provided a wonderful opportunity for so many performers, but fortunately, a replacement presenter will be taking charge and the Bucket will be filled again, with the next show already scheduled for early September. 

I got changed into, my civilian attire and said goodnight to various folk, and headed for home, tired and elated by having been privileged enough to take part in such a wonderful show, alongside so many terrific and talented people. . Massive thanks to Philippa and everyone involved in making the show go so well.


THE CABARET FORMERLEY KNOWN AS BUCKET http://www.myspace.com/formerlybucket

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Arthur Chappell

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