Come into my Parlour, A Cautionary Tale

Review in Issue 21-1 | Spring 2009

Hoxton Hall is one of London’s few remaining music halls; beautifully preserved, with high stage and wooden gallery intact. The perfect setting, then, for a mock-Victorian revue.

The Parlour’s Cautionary Tale has come on in leaps and bounds. The structure is much as it was: a ludicrously OTT melodrama of murder most foul a frame on which to hang a series of variety acts and musical comedy vignettes. There are still inconsistencies in performance skills and levels of engagement, which could perhaps be ironed out by a skilful director; but there have been shifts that have made the whole thing hang together more effectively.

In particular, the care and attention to the ‘offstage’ sections has upped the ante considerably. The little cabaret tables are decorated prettily, furnished with ‘newspapers’ advertising magical cures for all ills. The walkabout character Miss Fanny Brown has found her form in her dual role as door-girl and Sally Army saver-of-souls (admonishing us all for our enslavement to the demon drink). Archibald Floss’s Museum of Prodigies, the interval entertainment, is a marvellous show-within-the-show – a lovingly assembled installation-performance in which we encounter a whole horde of freaks, including a baby pickled in a bottle, a man who walks on broken glass, and the infamous escaping spiderwoman, Spidora.

Meanwhile back in the Manor, the loony Lord (aka Professor Elemental) raps on the joys of tea, and transmutes into a Wildman; recalcitrant butlers dust down their circus tricks; and the six-times-widowed Miss Sadie Belle is turned into a grotesque Day of the Dead figure, stripped to the bare and bloody bones by the morbidly musical Butcher Boys. A cautionary tale indeed.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 2008

This article in the magazine

Issue 21-1
p. 33