Monday, 15 February 2010

Cabaret: Review and Preview - 'The Antidote' and 'The Anecdote' at The Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter

The Antidote and The Anecdote

On Sunday 14th and Sunday 21st February, Particular Theatre Companyare producing an evening of comedy, music, plays, sketches and poetry at The Bike Shed Theatre. Starting from 18.00-22.00 and featuring a variety of talent from around Devon and beyond, these evenings will prove the perfect way to wash away the February blues. And, even better, they are completely free.

Those of you who read my preview or review of 'The Distance' - or have attended a performance yourself as it goes into the second of its three week run - may have already picked up on The Particular Theatre Company's Sunday cabaret evenings when the actors involved in the production get an evening off and other local talent come out to play.

The auditorium is transformed with tabled and candlelit seating and the curtains that separate theatre from bar are pulled back to make for a relaxed setting - it's fine to arrive late, leave early, or come in and out as there are plenty of breaks between turns. The company's connections with The Hour Glass Inn ensure the quality of the booze is high and if the temperature is cold the atmosphere is warm and friendly.

Think Weimar Cabaret meets Footlights Revue and that should give you an idea of what to expect. The first night didn't just have Valentine's Day to compete with but also the Wondermentalist Cabaret's Liv Torc and Beryl the Feral doing their 'For Our Sins' show at the Phoenix in Exeter so there were always seats to be had, but with enough in the crowd to generate some kind of buzz.

The quality of the acts was variable - from cruise ship to the Lapin Agile - but none overstayed their welcome. Without a notebook to record the names I can't provide an act-by-act commentary but among the bill were: Sam and Dave, presenting comedy sketches on stage and screen; Craig Norman doing performance poetry; David Lockwood and chum reciting pop lyrics as audition pieces; a monologue delivered partly in the voice and persona of Mike Tyson; and The Duelling Kazoos busking comic skiffle.

The latter deserve special mention as they're donating their time and talent to Phonic FM's second birthday bash and fundraiser on Saturday 20th February from 20.00 at the Phoenix Arts Centre in Exeter with live music also from Dumber Than the Average Bear, Glow Globes and Class Actions plus a full roster of Phonic FM DJs. At a fiver a ticket with every penny of the proceeds going to keeping the station on air, it's the least you can do to attend.

Incidentally, I understand Ben Bradshaw, our local MP and current Secretary of Culture is paying a visit to the Bike Shed tonight. And if he's reading, it's projects like this that give the best return on investment for arts funding. For every one Jonathan Ross you can keep a score or more pop-up theatres going...

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