Some days I blooming love London. After nearly seven years in my adopted country, I have loved it, hated it, left it, longed for it, come back to it, and escaped it. But today I am swooning over it.
The fresh essence of the London that I first experienced (as the rose-tinted bespectacled new town girl) settled over me last night. Like a heady scent of newly blossomed lilies.
Falling for the PR stunts for the new Pop-Up Theatre at Marylebone Gardens, I set off on a mission to discover. Serendipitously, I was given two complimentary tickets for the Friday show by the people of Theatre Delicatessen (the shows were set to be the fringe of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe). AND I was taken on a private tour of the colossal building that spread over 5 floors, which happens to be the former offices of BBC London! Press pass baby!
For a limited time (up until April 2013), this venue has been transformed to include an indoor pleasure garden where theatre goers, artists and just about anybody can enjoy live performance, music and art installation. Running the exciting pop-up creative performance are the associate artists of Theatre Delicatessen, The Lab Collective. On our tour of the building, we walked past studios, spacious rooms, and desk spaces that was rented out to musicians, actors, film editors, yoga and pilates instructors, designers, and artists. One thing that stuck in my mind was how affordable it was for a freelance artist to rent a desk space in such a creative environment, all for £80 a month! Pinch me.
The whole experience left me bedazzled as I felt so privileged to be let into their inner world. And I will let you in on what I saw.
Introducing… Myra Dubois!
From the moment I entered the same magic cave that Aladdin found himself in (… I mean the Pop-Up Theatre), I was impressed by the lush maroon fabric draped ceiling, beautiful cushions on every seat of the theatre, the cabaret mood set by cute vintage lampshades, and the dim lighting that illuminated just about enough of the things worth seeing.
When I was warm in my seat, Myra Dubois entered the stage. Is he a she? Or is she a he? If ever there was a time you were not sure about cabaret, drag queen Myra Dubois (or Auntie Myra, her recession-hit and reluctant children’s entertainer alter ego) will whip you back into a believer. Auntie Myra casted a spell on us with her charmingly rude persona, sharp-tongue putdowns, kooky dance moves, and intentional half-arsed magic. She is probably the world’s most fearless comic. Even though she opened up the floor for everyone to talk to her, very few of us dared to do so for fear of being embarrassed. A true northerner from Rotherham, Auntie Myra knew how to keep us on our toes.
Bring the child out in you!
In the pass-the-parcel game where everyone in the audience stood in a big circle, the moment of sheer unluckiness befell whoever who had the parcel as removal of each layer of newspaper wrapping unraveled parts of a plastic doll. The unluckiest person of the lot was none other than yours truly, who received the part only to be expected as the cherry on the cake – the HEAD (see inset)! Even unluckier, I was pulled up on stage by a happily-skipping Auntie Myra. I will spare you the details, but I assure you that I made it back home safe.
The Pop-Up Theatre runs for 3 months with 2 shows each night, featuring pre-Edinburgh festival acts. Click here to check out the brilliant cabaret, comedy and live art (Auntie Myra is back on tomorrow, 9th July!). The show continues in October where the entire building is transformed into Shelf Life, a juggernaut improvisation performance where artists will improv on request.