If you were of the opinion that gin is a nasty, dry and bitter alcohol to be swilled about only by our elders at stuffy gatherings, then think again.

The juniper-based drink is making the rounds onstage thanks to Maeve Marsden, who is on a mission to share her love affair with gin through song. Mother’s Ruin is a cabaret created by Marsden that revolves around her favourite spirit; it’s a stage show that’s one part history, one part song and a whole lot of gin.

“When we call it a cabaret about gin, we’re being quite literal,” Marsden explains. “We got excited researching particular times throughout history on one topic, in this case gin. We got interested in it being a woman’s drink and how it appeared in different times of history, particularly the 17th century when there was a gin craze and there was a lot of social stigma around women and how they could drink and where – and so Mother’s Ruin was born.”

With the aid of musical director Elly Baxter, whose popular blog The Ginstress provides fellow gin-sippers with in-depth information and commentary on the beverage, Marsden and her company took inspiration from, in her words, their nerdy love of gin to create the show.

“I suppose when Elly and I were coming up with the concept, we realised we both are people who have an interest in feminism and gin, and the truth is that’s our drink of choice. If you want to know the history of something you like, you investigate, and that’s how we got into it.

“I have 15 types of gin at my home – I really do love it. It’s got a place in pop culture. People in Australia are doing interesting things with gin. I recently went to England to a specialist bar and they had 687 types of gin – and they only placed third in the country! There’s a lot of gin in the world.”

If whisky is associated with rock’n’roll, then why not link gin with cabaret? Marsden has certainly found a creative way of presenting the historical side of her favourite fluid in a fun manner, linking it with her performing passions.

“It’s a funny thing,” she says. “Cabaret is a form I love to sing and I can do that while still making a work that has a humorous or political focus, not just a narrative or singing pop songs. And on top of that, I’m not a songwriter.

“Seven years ago I created an act called Lady Digs It Better. Sometimes we call [cabaret] different subsets, and it’s on the rise – the more we did it the more other cabaret artists worked hard to build the profile here and overseas. The passion for me was the intersection of humour, politics, music and storytelling.”

Mother’s Ruin really does sound like lip-smacking fun, and it comes as jolly good news for Sydneysiders as Marsden and her troupe are bound for Sydney Festival in January. “[It] will be our first time bringing the show to Sydney,” she says. “We’ve done Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra festivals, and though we’re based in Sydney, we’ve only performed something of a mini- show of sections of Mother’s Ruin. We were really keen to have Sydney Festival pick up the show and when they did, we really jumped on the opportunity to perform.”

Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret About Ginis playing at the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent from Wednesday January 11 – Sunday January 15 as part of Sydney Festival.

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