Some Women Fight to Vote, Others Fought to Drink: A Cabaret About Gin

A Behind-The-Scenes Interview with one of the hilarious stars, Maeve Marsdan, of the highly acclaimed show A Mother’s Ruin now featured as part of Perth’s Fringe Festival. 

Spoiler Alert: All patrons of the audience, will receive a complimentary glass of gin & tonic on entry. (Talk about a total holistic performance…) 

So tell us how long you’d been prepping for the show? From idea, to performance? We’ve read the reviews, and they’re great! 

Look, the idea is actually a couple of years old… and of course, happened whilst drinking Gin. 

Myself, and Elle Baxter started chatting about the history of gin. I’d been doing feminist cabaret for some time, and we were chatting about the history of gin, which reveal that gin was hailed a women’s drink. That girls drink gin, and it would make them cry – and therefore it was called ‘Mother’s Ruin’ – I was fascinated by this. The stories kept coming. It did take us a while to get in a room and start writing. We brought in Jeremy Brennan (Musical Director), and Libby the other performer of this show, and Anthea (Director). Finally, we premiered in June, at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Been a really interesting process, and we’re always making tweaks to it as we hear more stories from people around us, and fellow ‘gin-nerds’. So, the current version of the show is different that what it was six months ago. 

So you’re always refining it? 

Absolutely, it keeps it fun for us. 

You’ve already touched on it, but you learnt that in the history of gin, it really was quite a female drink. What was one or two facts that really interested you? 

The actual performance really gets into it. Ultimately, the interesting thing for us, was where the thing of ‘Mother’s Ruin’ came about? For that, it’s the 1700’s in England. It was time that they called the gin craze. It was the emergence of gin as we know it, as brought over from Holland at the time. As such, you’ve got this mass consumption and drinking of gin. They relaxed the laws because they wanted to encourage people to make and drink gin, such that it increased their grain production – this is where it really gets nerdy. We make it sound funny in the show, I promise. After this, there was a mass wave of alcoholism, and problem drinking. So the government had to find a way to deter people from drinking gin. 

Rather ironic. 

Alot of the propaganda at the time, was that all these women were making and drinking gin, and growing the idea that it was ruining the name of these good, clean, mother-types, and turning them into these terrible woman. 

Of course, mass alcoholism is a bad thing, not just affecting women, but men and children also. It’s interesting that so much of the propaganda at the time focused on how it was for women, and that it was causing all these women to turn to crime. That’s where alot of the show’s ideas came about, focusing on stories of where women and gin crossed paths. 

The show starts with everyone making gin in England, exploring how it takes us to now, of course with singing and dancing, and silly parts. 

That’s absolutely fascinating, and naturally the majority of the audience wouldn’t know as much about this. I think the really interesting part, will be seeing how you translate all those stories and facts to the stage – with the cabaret and songsReally unique concept. 

Haha, I always start interviews with the show’s nerdy facts – but I promise it is fun! 

It actually makes me respect what you’re about to perform alot more! 

Oh, good! Actually, nearly all the characters in the show, are based on real women. What we’ve done is found women in history who have crossed paths with gin. 

For example one of my favourites – In the 60’s Mel & Rosalie, they wanted to drink in Brisbane. But at the time, women were often prohibited from the main bar unless accompanied by a man. They had ladies lounges instead. So these two women chained themselves to the main bar in protest. 

We love them! Some women were fighting for the right to vote, and these women were fighting for the right to drink. 

And we actually met a women in our Sydney show, who did the same thing in Canberra. 

We’re genuinely enthralled and can’t wait to see it. 

[For further information, including ticket sales visit: https://www.fringeworld.com.au]

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About Roma Christian

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With her hands often in numerous projects at once, Roma maintains a level-head with copious amounts of green tea & Seinfeld reruns. A strong penchant for writing about the human condition, she loves discussing human psychology, and uncovering magic found in the ordinary events of Life. Instagram: @roma.ireen.christian