The Mayday Cabaret, 27th May 2011

Stuart Wilde

The Mayday Cabaret saw a full house even from the start of the pre-gig gig – a sign of the popularity of The Darling Sins.  The Sins played an early set before the Cabaret proper, and for those whose first time it was to see this band, they weren’t let down by the excellence of Leni’s distinctive vocals and stage presence, along with the cool accomplishments of Joe Harpur and the crew.

Stuart Wilde and Katherine Doehner

Kicking off at nine o’clock, with the theme being “Mayday” – Helena Mulkerns reprised a selection of wartime songs, with Cyril Murphy on piano.  As Mistress of Ceremonies, Helena introduces proceedings, and each act, picks up after the break with another couple of songs – to the worthy accompaniment of Cyril on piano.  This evening’s deliberate nostalgia included “Lily Marlene,” “La Vie en Rose,” “A Nightingale Sang on Berkeley Square,”  “Seems like Old Times” and more.

It was the Welsh  who kicked off – courtesy of Coracle, an Interreg initiative promoting the Ireland-Wales Project.  Writer Emma Baines and poet Simone Mansei Broom brought the crowd to order with some intriguing and accomplished work, always appreciated by the WAC audience.

Up next, Stuart Wilde and Katheryn Doehner waltzed that ditzy cabaret muse around the hall, with some songs like “Little Ol Restaurant”  –  from Stuart’s DVD, “The Black Crow” and accompanied by the gorgeous Katheryn, who sported a most delectable pair of high heeled leather boots  (for which Iggy Pop would have been most lascivious).

Dave Lordan is a man not to mess with – his poetry has the disarming quality of coming over at once bitingly satirical and achingly funny at the same time.  The audience make shake with mirth, but is stricken by the depth of the underlying messages long after the lights have dimmed on the stage.  Dave’s live work has been called “a dynamic and inventive poetic experience,” and we understood why as he performed for us this evening.

Filmbase, Ireland’s indispensable source for Irish independent film makers, have provided the films (with the film makers’ permission of course) for our Ciné Sweetcake slot.  “Tufty”, from Warrior Films caused a near sensation in the crowd tonight, as audience members audibly reacted to the scenes of horror and gore onscreen.  “I couldn’t sleep after seeing that film,” noted one seasoned Academic from Waterford Institute of Technology.  Yes – with a tagline like, “what if you knew where your Teddybear really came from?”  what could you expect.

Glen Peters proved a man well able for the audience in its aftermath, however.  Born in India, raised in England and now running a splendid Cultural Centre in South Wales, Peters’ reading from his novel, “Mrs D’Silva’s Detective Instincts and the Shaitan of Calcutta” (Parthian Books) explored themes of cultural and political upheaval, and brought a whole new world alive for the audience.

The perfect follow up to this might well have been an exotic dance from Khelashi – and it was.  The lovely Kate McKenna – harpist, pianist, teacher and bellydancer  (not to mention former Cáca Milis piano player!) delivered a veil dance that was alluring and accomplished at the same time.

Funny? You want funny?  Well, do it yourself.   So sayeth the Wexford Improv Group, who gather ideas from the audience during the evening, then improvise their set on the basis of the subjects suggested in little notes then handed up onstage.  It has to be seen to be believed – and no better bunch than these, who always throw a new slant on whatever you throw them.

B & The Honeyboy took to the stage for the final stretch – a blues- rock duo that kick out a mean set of songs with Bayou and dirt-country influences that take on a contemporary edge with the searing, soulful vocals of Aileen Mythen to the fore, and Kierán McEvoy’s guitar stomping or sailing in and around them.  Kierán, interestingly, appeared at the antecedent to The Cáca Milis Cabaret – the old “Clumsy Cabaret,” which made its mark in the original East Village Sin-é Café in the early 90s.  Welcome back, Kierán!

Following the stunning performance from Diva Aileen, MC Helena took the mike to bid good night to the crowd – a fabulous evening all round, and one of many more, we hope.