The Night Kitchen Cabaret return to London with their new show Imbolc Blues at the Clerkenwell Theatre.
Hosted by curvaceous Cockney Ruby Kitchen and featuring a bizarre assortment of friends and family, this theatre-cum-cabaret show is not scared to give the audience plenty to chew on.
It is the night of Imbolc, the Gaelic celebration of spring, but all is not well: the sheep are behaving oddly, temperatures have plummetted, there's a glacier coming in from East London and there's a virus on the loose. The local vet is working off her ketamine addiction, Ruby's protogee is having problems burying his lost toe and the neighbourhood glaciologist is rather too fond of her chainsaw and blowtorch.
This is a superb slice of fringe theatre that is fantastic in both senses of the word. It has definitely been done on a budget, £5000 of which was raised through crowdfunding website Kickstarter, but there's imagination oozing from every pore. As well as being dazzled by more plot points than a year's worth of some other East End drama doing the rounds, the audience can stick around after the show for special Imbolc cocktails, practice their haikus with an eel or learn some hula hoop skills with the corporate sponsors Circularity Thinking.
There may be no frills in the props department but there are plenty of thrills over the 90 minute running time thanks to an energetic cast, a cracking pace and no end of invention.
We especially loved the four-way sword fight, which showed how to recreate acrobatic battles on minimum budget. As Ruby Kitchen, the no-less-prosaicly-named Roses Urquhart does a slap-up job of keeping this rollercoaster on the rails despite its multiple tangents. Clare Barrett does an amazing job switching between her roles of Welsh vet, French cook and local knifegrinder, bringing each to life with their own character. Specialists like ace juggler Mat Ricardo, dancer Gwyn Emberton and diva Kristina Mansbridge add quality turns within the plot to great effect.
The Night Kitchen Cabaret presents Imbolc Blues can be seen at the Clerkenwell Theatre, 24 Exmouth Market, London, 3-6 February. Tickets are £12 online (booking fee of £1.50) or available from Brill Cafe, Exmouth Market or on the door.