FANS of faded Victoriana need a drink after traipsing through the unremitting corporate greyness the Assembly Rooms has become.
Thinking Drinkers Guide to Alcohol
Assembly Rooms (Venue 20)
Star rating: * * * *
I felt out of place without a business suit. But Ben and Tom, our charming guides on the road to alcohol, are suitably attired in three-piece smartness and sensible hair. They certainly have a great opening: free beer. And, in keeping with their “comedy” listing, it’s called Bishop’s Finger.
Drink less but better is the message of this show, powerfully put across with an introductory shot of Jägermeister, a drawing of an enormous cock and hairy balls, an interesting reinterpretation of Koranic advice (the image of Muhammad as a grass and Allah as a party man is novel, to say the least) and some partial male nudity, among other techniques I might mention. Tom and Ben are impressively knowledgeable about booze – its creation, its history, its place in and influence on society and politics. And they are not averse to a little diversion from the path of enlightenment. We learn about the writings of Nietzsche and the mythical female orgasm, pirates and Picasso. They give us an in-depth analysis of Hogarthian art, depicting, as it does in one work, the evils of gin. As we are, at the time, sipping a shot of Tanqueray 10. Along with the chat and the charm, the jokes and the joy of Tom dressed only in some sequins and a pair of butterfly wings, we get a succession of tastings. Jäger and gin, Belvedere pink grapefruit vodka and absolutely (no vodka pun intended) the most gloriously, caramelly delicious rum I have ever encountered. I am unashamed to say that, ignoring the show’s oft-repeated mantra “drink less but drink better”, I nicked the two spare shots of Angostura and created my own version – “drink more, drink better”. This is a terrific show. And in these austere times, it has to be the best VFM in town.
• Until 26 August. Today 5:55pm.