'Moralising about women had stronger impact': Meet the women mixing cabaret and gin
Mothers Ruin is all about the history and wonders of gin (Picture: Patrick Boland)

Gin is the booze du jour, with everyone toting goblets filled with fancy tonic and juniper berries in beer gardens across the nation.

So meshing the drink with cabaret is bound to go down well.

Two women have merged comedy, cabaret and G&Ts for Mothers Ruin, which is currently in London and preparing to tour the UK.

Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood started Mothers Ruin in Adelaide in 2016 after learning how gin came to be considered a womans drink – and one that ruined womens lives.

Speaking to, Libby and Maeve said: We were drinking a lot of gin and got chatting to Elly Baxter of The Ginstress about its history. Once we started to hear the more complex tales about how gin came to be stereotyped as a womens drink – mothers ruin – we became more and more fascinated and realised the potential for a show.


Its not the most cheery of topics, though, when you delve into the history of the tipple.

'Moralising about women had stronger impact': Meet the women mixing cabaret and gin
Maeve and Libby delved into the history of gin, and tell it through music (Picture: Patrick Boland)

The girls said: During the 1700s gin craze in England, public alcoholism was causing huge problems for the city. When cracking down, government and the media – those with power – focused on the “ruinous” effect gin was having on women specifically, using the image of a fallen woman, a neglectful mother, to decry its ills.

Of course, alcoholism was causing problems for men, women and children alike, but moralising about women seemed to have a stronger impact, unsurprising given the culture at the time.

This stereotype led to some wild stories throughout history – including the fact that 50 years ago, women werent even allowed in bars in Australia.

When asked what their favourite stories from their research were, Maeve and Libby said: We particularly love the story of Merle Thornton and Rosalie Bognor who chained themselves to the bar at Brisbanes Regatta Hotel to protest the fact that in Australia at that time (1965) women werent allowed access to most pubs without a man present in their company.

Luckily, we dont have that issue in the UK, and Maeve and Libby are performing the show across the country, armed with gin. They first took the show to The Other Palace in London, on stage surrounded by a cocktail bar.

More: Gin

Libby and Maeve deliver powerhouse vocals, weaving songs by Amy Winehouse, Sia and Billy Joel into the history of gin.

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They explained: We looked for songs about gin, of course, and songs about motherhood and women. And we looked for songs that would enhance the comedic or emotional impact of the stories we were trying to tell.


So, there was trial and error as we played with song and musical style and a lot hit the cutting room floor. But ultimately, song choice is about storytelling through music for us.

The ladies hope to bring humour, harmony, irreverance, politics and gin to the show – and when asked whether theyre gin drinkers themselves, they quipped: Of course! We couldnt tour this show for two years without enjoying its central character.

Mothers Ruin is on at The Other Palace until 21 April, before touring Birmingham, Warrington, Inverness and Wick. For tickets, visit their website.

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