Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review: Show and Tell at the Portland. 20.11.12

As a veteran of the old Portland visiting the new venue for the first time was a bit like stumbling on Narnia. Where there was once a door leading into a small, dark room there is now a long white corridor. Entering a door to the left you find yourself in a bright, spacious room, predominantly white. All that’s missing is a lamp post in the middle.

I was performing at Show and Tell a cabaret night organised by the Twisted Willow Theatre group. It was their first event in Cambridge and was extremely well organised. Sound checks started in good time and when I arrived half an hour early there was a table set out selling items for the performers and well-produced colour programmes.

The event was open to any performers in the area and they attracted quality and variety. There was theatre, music, comedy, poetry even martial arts. Organiser and compare, Richard, started the show dead on time. The first act was Kate Vowles from Colorado who played flawless and mesmerising folk songs. She was followed by teenage improv comedy group The Youthful Exuberants. After a tentative start they delivered some great comedy moments including a hilarious sketch at a vet’s setting the bar high for the university improv group who performed later.

It was great to hear poetry from friends of the show Leanne Moden and JS Watts but it was also special to see so many performers I’d never heard of before. There was more poetry of a Buddhist nature by John Drew, who remarkably managed to get Margaret Thatcher to fund a poetry group in the 80s. Clarise Mbombo filled the room with her powerful singing and Rani Drew presented a performance of her short play set in the London riots of 2011. There was an appearance by Matha Dench Mirren, the comedy alter-ego of Simon Jones and university student Harry Wright scored a hit with his stand-up comedy. Finally it was a pleasure to perform myself to a sizeable crowd. Once again, I was performing with Tom Adams a remarkable musician who it is always a pleasure to work with.

Twisted Willow Theatre’s next big project is a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream. There is an open call for actors and backstage help. For more information email:

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