Pros: We laughed, we sang, we danced and we all had our minute of fame.
Cons: If you’re stage-shy, you might wish to hide in the back rows and hope that the venue is full. But if it’s quiet, as it was in my case, you’re in trouble!
If you’ve had enough of dull Sunday evenings, spent watching telly on the couch, but you’re not a great fan of big crowds or long, dramatic performances, Sister Mary McArthur’s Big Sunday Night Show is your compromise. The show takes place in the Cockpit, which is a cosy theatre tucked in the back alleys of Edgware Road. This intimate venue will allow you to enjoy the show from a close distance, and satisfy your secret desires of taking to the stage, should you have any.
Against the back drop of a half-cross shaped platform decorated with art-deco motifs, and accompanied on the piano by Brother Matthew, Sister Mary in habit displays excellent singing skills, while introducing a diverse and eccentric array of performers. The guests (who will be different every week) join her in turns, during a two-hour variety show where any resistance to getting involved is soon defeated.
First on stage is Caroline the Musical Saw Lady, who, as her name might suggest, enchants us with the melodies of her stainless-steel hand saw which she strokes with a violin bow. She’s the winner of the 2015 Trophy for Best Solo Busker and someone might remember her for a brief appearance in Britain’s Got Talent in 2014. Disregarding Simon Cowell’s negative opinion, I think she’s pretty good and her execution of Doctor Who’s theme tune gets everyone in stitches.
To follow is the newly-formed comedy duo Isle of Edna. Anna Brook-Mitchell & Angela Nesi’s jokes are not particularly brilliant but I enjoy their performance by the time they pick my boyfriend and two more guys to join them on stage. The guests’ initial embarrassment and some of their responses are decidedly the funniest moments of this act.
The best act comes on stage after the interval. It is the brilliantly miserable La Poule Plombee, a French songstress who conveys in her songs the feelings of distress she has regarding relationships and certain English customs. Under a long black dress and an anguished expression hides Sarah Louise Young, a cabaret performer, actress and writer that, among many other awards, has been included in Timeout’s Top 10 Cabaret Acts and named Best Musical Variety Act at the London Cabaret Awards. She’s a great performer, her singing is remarkable and her lyrics are exquisite comic material. Unfortunately, she only regales us with three songs, which leave me wanting for more.
And if you’ve been lucky enough to survive in incognito until the end of the show, this is now time for you to bring on your best pose, as Sister Mary will get her phone out to take few snaps (and selfies) among her audience, before bidding you farewell.
She’ll be back at the Cockpit on the 21st February with a new and exhilarating collection of oddities.
Booking Until: 17 July 2016
Box Office: 020 7258 2925