Arthur Chappell

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THE CABARET FORMERLY KNOWN AS BUCKET Ė THE JOY OF LIES Ė THE GREEN ROOM, WHITWORTH STREET, MANCHESTER 12TH MARCH 2010

A welcome return for the Cabaret, this time given a politically satirical edge just as Britain prepares for a General Election, with BILL BUCKET, (our host, GARETH CUTTER) standing as a party leader and Prime Minister in waiting we can all trust, given his policies are so sincere. For example, when I pledged my support to any politician offering free beer, he actually bought me a beer Ė Canít see the mainstream politicians doing that, now, can you?

 

Bill was assisted by fellow politicians and PR spin-doctor people, like FREDDY (CHRIS FITZSIMMONS) who wore a gimp mask, borrowed from Piers Morgan,throughout the electioneering cabaret. Freddy claimed to need the mask due to sensitivity to light. (Actually, his words were rendered incoherent due to the mask, so Bill Bucket was speaking for his spokesman for much of the night.

 

In true Bread & Circuses tradition, Bill is clearly in favour of funding the arts, as well as the sciences so it was no surprise to see the welcome the return of the REQUEST ROBOT (ALIKI CHAPLE) painted metallic bronze and responding to text messages to a designated number from the audience on her I-phone. As she stated, in some deference to Isaac Asimov, she was ďI Robot, her phone was I phone. She recited, from memory, a variation on Asimovís Laws Of Robotics, namely to the effect- 1/. She would not follow orders harmful to herself or others. 2/. She would obey the laws of the land, health & safety regulations and the wishes of the Green Room staff. 3/. She could refuse to obeycommands and requests in contravention of the other laws. 4/. Any laws not in contradiction to other laws had to be obeyed. 5/. In relation to her control box, she was in receipt of instructions when her light was flickering but in recharge mode when the light was out.

Requests ranged from hopping like a frog, through flashing her bra, slapping Bill Bucketís face, faking orgasms in a When Harry met sally fashion, monkey impersonations, strange dances, putting on (herself) every coat she could grab, singing happy birthday, to singing snatches of various songs, (including The Sound Of Music, and Iíve Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts), shouting Baby Fish-mouth, looking for her llamas, and wearing a straw as a moustache, climbing on tables amidst drinks to chat with the audience, swimming backstroke on the chairs, and dragging herself round on the floor as if her legs no longer functioned, and throwing a wedding bouquet to the audience.

There was one slight problem Ė Alikiís method acting difficulty in snapping out of character enough not to follow texted orders even when other artistes were performing. This was incredibly distracting and forced the audience to divide its attention between the stage acts and Alikiís latest antics. This was most apparent when the excellent humorous poet GARTH WILLIAMS was on, and Aliki was outside the Green Room building simulating sex with a lamp-post, forcing us to turn heads from the man valiantly trying to entertain us on the stage to be able to watch her. Shortly afterwards she was shouting the alphabet slowly in silly voices on command while the poet again gamely persevered. That there were members of the audience ignoring other acts to text Aliki was bad enough, but her act should have had its own designated time & space and not been allowed or encouraged to distract from the activity of other performers too.

 

Garth did an excellent job under the circumstances, bursting bubbles to refer to the previous loves of his life he never cared for being a highlight of his presentation. He returned later with a different act, as a dance, PE fitness instructor. Here, Alikiís still ongoing routine was overshadowed by invited audience participation, with one of the two volunteers proving to be an accomplished ballet dancer.

 

Bill Bucket got his banjo out and presented a song from his days in a band, The Filthy Fibs, (started because former Prime Minister Tony Blairís pre-politics singing career had been so successful) and sang a satirical song called I Told A Lie.

 

During the first of two intervals, a political tract was handed out by Bill Bucketís opponents, expertly outlining the scandals and shameful policy failures of his past including elf-sex (a reference to the Christmas 2009 Cabaret show)

 

Bill Bucket later replied to his critics when he opened a series of boxes, containing helium filled balloons, popping the balloons to represent policies he had put to bed, such as the drugs balloon, and the power saving balloon (painted like a light-bulb) though in response to criticism that he did bad things to cats, the balloon representing a cat was released into the night sky.

 

Billís minister for culture ANNE BURNS, who has performed at burlesque shows I have attended) presented two terrific routines, first as a nun, (coping beautifully and spontaneously with a delay in starting the Robert Palmer Ė Power Of Love song she needed for her act) slipping from vows of chastity towards bad habits, soaking her blouse in holy water, pressing her cross into her panties, suggestively kissing a portrait of Christ, and generally making blasphemy truly beautiful.

 

She returned later as a very sexy Darth Vader (ďLuke, I am your motherĒ!!!) making a light-sabre very phallic, and leaving in panties ^ pasties bearing pictures of R2D2 & C3PO. She held up cards indicated her desire to crush the rebels, go shopping with Yoda, and snog a particularly handsome storm-trooper she admired too.

 

DRUNKEN CHORUS, presented by a single man, with the comic genius of Jerry Lewis, proved to be a series of abortive attempts by an artiste to introduce himself, with his efforts to gain audience approval increasing in intensity until he bribed us with alcohol, and offered me vodka, the bottle of which eventually somehow ended up on our table too,(making this an exceptional night for me free drinks wise), and finally really getting the party started with booze, party poppers and music by Jefferson Airplane. Drunken Chorus had the words to their Song, Do You Need Some Body on his now bared chest in red body paint, or possibly in lipstick.

With the Request Robot deactivated, we were invited to head upstairs to the Green Room Mezzanine floor to watch a brilliant multi-level puppet show, THE PILLOW-MAN, presented by RAGAMUFFIN. With three large screens set out in triptych, the presentation began in light humour with a sock puppet telling a laundry basket with eyes that he will tell him a story. The story proves to be an increasingly dark tale of the Pillowman, who is a giant pink puppet, a nightmare cross-over between Death and Zippy from rainbow, and his need to break in his apprentice to a cruel world of broken dreams, betrayal and doomed children. Told in song, movement, and a variety of puppets of all sizes, with shadow puppets flickering around behind the screens too, it was actually quite a creepy tale, though not without some humour. The promise to do a happier story like Cinderella next time ended the set.

 

Our PM in waiting sang a closing son, with the puppets joining him in mime mode, creating something of a Creature Comforts effect, and finally, the show was over.

 

Thanks to Gareth for the beer, Drunken Chorus for the glass of vodka, and the young lady who shared a table with me, and who shared the rest of the vodka around with everyone on our table.It was an excellent show, and I look forward to the Cabaretís return in June.

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