I am ashamed to admit that Saturday night was the first time I've had cause to step foot in the warehouse behind Milgi - and 'warehouse' is an entirely misleading term. Or at least it was this weekend, when the space had been transformed in accordance to 'Art in the Speakeasy Warehouse' project.
Not for the first time that day (see my earlier post) I felt like I'd stepped through a wormhole - or the TARDIS doors - and ended up on the other end of a time corridor; and I definitely crowbarred all those sci-fi references in just there, in order to further indulge my fantasy of being the Doctor. I own two sonic screwdrivers, so its plausible. (I also own a laser screwdriver, and am equally open to being the Master ...)
Milgi's warehouse was low-lit and warmly decorated with fringed lampshades and curtains draped across the blackboard walls, across which WWII era slogans ('Loose lips sink ships') and chorus lines of women's legs were sketched. The speakers pumped with the charmingly sleazy sound of the Bryan Ferry's revamped 'Love is the Drug', pinched rather appropriately from Baz Luhrmann's recent Great Gatsby adaptation. It set the mood nicely, creating the right expectations for the bawdy and baroque entertainment awaiting us.
Our host for the evening was the highly charismatic Jayde Adams, who was recently announced as the winner of Funny Women 2014. I did not know this at the time however, and was simply impressed by her amazing M&M trousers. (I now have a dire need for an entire M&M wardrobe, cheers Jayde.)
Jayde kicked off the evening's strong bent towards audience participation (which got increasingly ... 'intimate' as the evening went on, particularly by the time we reached Marmaille's act) by plucking a volunteer, Paul, to perform an operatic duet with her. In a fashion which recalled Anne Robinson during her Weakest Link years she actually got the crowd - and we were a very crowded crowd, packing out the warehouse wall to wall - to pick the volunteer: sorry Paul!
|Unfortunately my shitty camera kinda obscures the glory of the M&M trousers|
Decked out in a sequinned jacket ('so you look less like a sex offender Paul') the pair held hands throughout an operatic duet (definitely for dramatic impact, and definitely not to prevent Paul from running away) which included a lot of actual singing from Jayde and a lot of blushing and embarrassed hand gestures from Paul. You took one for the team Paul, and we thank you for it.
Then after a quick lesson in clapping (there's a scale that runs from 1 to 9, we discovered) we were on to the first act!
Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned clapping, I rather lost the next act's name in his introduction. Corrections are very welcome in the comments below, but for now I will say that Stand-Up-Whose-Name-I-Unfortunately-Did-Not-Catch-But-I-Think-Might-Have-Been-Dustin? regaled us with an impressively delivered comedy set, with humour that ranged from the regional, to the unrepentantly innuendo-laden.
Comedy shortly gave way to cabaret, and next up was Honey O'Matics and the grand opening of her launderette! Unfortunately Greg the Contortionist never made it out of his cardboard box to join in ... not even when Honey stabbed it a few times with a kitchen knife. Y'know. To encourage him.
|Honey O'Matics takes to the stage and my camera is as shit as ever|
This musical interlude got interactive when Honey summoned three audience members on-stage, who were instructed to scrawl bad date experiences onto pairs of oversized knickers, which they were then instructed to don for another round of the song.
Unfortunately we never got to hear the full story behind these un-fortuitous dates - a pity. 'I yelled out vagina' begs all sorts of questions.
|Honey helps this audience member get her undies on|
|Mr I-Yelled-Out-Vagina, looking a bit bashful|
|The compete lineup, with their lyric-sheets|
After Honey O'Matics had closed up shop for the day, we were ushered out into the lane, where after a short interlude the warehouse doors were once again thrown open - by Marmaille.
|Actual quality photo shamelessly knicked off Twitter|
A clown with the face of an angel, and a bridal vision with the face of a clown, Marmaille welcomed us back in one by one, brusquely distributing 'oui' and 'non' stickers out in turn, which played a later role in the audience participation selection process.
Marmaille, 'a brash and eccentric “French” lady searching for a husband' with a death stare to rival Darth Vader, kicked off her set with a video of herself in which she clarified for the audience's benefit that she did not live in the internet. It also included sped-up footage of Marmaille hunting the shoreline for a husband, to which we were encouraged to add 'the Benny Hill music' in our heads.
She then proceeded to scoff pastries and guzzle wine, in accordance to a Buzzfeed list of Reasons to Date a French Girl, read out (a little ineffectually) by a (not-so) helpful member of the audience whom Marmaille rewarded with a bit of a snog. He only seemed mildly traumatised after.
The climax (pun fully intended) of the affair came in a round of bizarro world Blind Date - just imagine Cilla Black in the 'Allo 'Allo universe. To everyone's surprise Marmaille rejected all three of her suitors, and copped off with the wall - obligingly played by my mate Dan.
Jayde Adams then returned for a grandstanding finale (which I won't spoil, for those of you who might see one of her shows in the future, and I highly recommend you do) - but may I just say, it involved the most impressive means of flipping someone off I've seen in quite some time.
To find out more about Jayde Adams you can swing by her website or chat to her on Twitter @jaydeadams
By day Honey O'Matics is Kelly Jones, and lives on the internet here. She can also be found on Twitter @thedrownedgirl
Marmaille also masquerades as Rachel Helena Walsh and can be found on Twitter @theatretheatre