Event review: Suburbaret at Theatre Utopia, Matthews Yard, Sunday 17th July

By - Wednesday 27th July, 2016

Ian Marvin was invited to leave his carkeys in a bowl. Welcome to suburbia

Tickety Boo.
Photo author’s own.

Although it has been open for almost a year now, this was the first time I had visited Theatre Utopia. Of course the location was familiar as the former Matthews Yard studio space which also frequently doubles up as the venue for Croydon Tech City. I was reassured to see that my very own piano was still lurking in a corner.

Arriving a few minutes early, we took the opportunity to grab some excellent cider from Hoodoo’s Bar, also located within Matthews Yard, and make the most of the glorious summer weather by sitting outside for a while.

Suburbaret began when the compere Michael Twaits introduced himself and Simona Budd on piano. Michael pointed out that he was ‘a man in a dress’ and also made much mention of being a Croydon resident, in fact so local that he was able to pop home in the interval to hang out his laundry. The audience was small (there were only four of us) but we were invited to put our keys into a bowl with the promise that there would be prizes of Waitrose Essentials items at the end of the show.

Waitrose in Croydon doesn’t stock scented ironing water. We’re not gentrified yet

Gareth Edward as ‘Andrew’.
Photo by Julie Hoad, used with permission.

In fact Gareth Edward, who is also the producer of Suburbaret, made much reference to this value product range, a selection of which was prominently displayed on the stage. Apparently the Croydon branch of Waitrose doesn’t stock scented ironing water, so perhaps rumours of impending gentrification have been exaggerated? Gareth lives in Balham, and proceeded to perform a number of songs about the joys and perils of using the Northern Line. With a strong Disney theme, one number subtitled ‘Love the tourist, hate the suitcase’ included the line: ‘Let it go, do not obstruct the doors’.

Gareth was followed by Dee Riley, a magician with his own particular take on suburbia. We had been each asked to draw pictures on small slips of paper, however before he identified who had produced which image, and in one instance was able to reproduce unseen what had been drawn, he did a high speed conceal/reveal trick.

After the interval Michael Twaits performed a song from The Rocky Horror Show and introduced Claire Nelson, whose comedy act was based on her origins in Clacton, the part of Broken Britain that nobody wants to sellotape back on.

Where would suburbia be without gnomes?

‘Andrew’ was Gareth Edward’s alter ego, he performed a Victoria Wood song, ‘A Better Day’ originally ‘Andrea’, about being seventeen and stuck with your parents in suburbia. This was performed with touching delicacy, and heartfelt poignancy in the light of Wood’s recent death.

Next up we had some observational comedy by Tamasine Kimber from the perspective of a mother of small children and the need to escape from that reality once in a while. And where would suburbia be without gnomes? To close we had Tickety Boo and a burlesque act on disappointment in love performed to a backing of Minnie Ripperton’s ‘Loving You’. After the revelation about scented ironing water, I also learnt that it’s possible to obtain gnome pasties…

In all, it was a pleasant and entertaining way to spend an early evening. Gareth did of course give us our keys back, rewarding us with Waitrose Essentials items according to his divination of our character from them. We ended up with the mini-avocados. These turned out to be disappointingly unripe. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there: suggestions as to what it might be are welcome.

Ian Marvin

Ian Marvin

Ian is a product designer who moved to the borough in 2003. His interests in all things Croydon stretch from being on the committee of the Constructing Excellence Croydon Club to active membership of the Croydon Clandestine Cake Club. During the day he works on his interior lighting businesses which are also based in Croydon. In the unlikely event that he has any leisure time, he enjoys creating ceramic pieces and playing bass guitar. Any opinions expressed here are personal.

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