"Some stories are meant to dance under the gaslight, others are meant to glimmer and fade," intones our white-faced master of ceremonies. Of the stories he introduces in this cabaret-style suite of monologues devised and performed by The Cup Theatre Company, there are a few real jiggers.
Keith James Walker's tale of the abortive romance between a country boy and girl in 'The Ponderous Pontification Of The Perpetually Melancholy Boy' is anything but ponderous, and its narrator less melancholic than stoically assertive.
In just a few minutes Walker packs in a novel's weight of misadventure delivered with flashes of sparely beautiful prose. "Shooting stars are nothing but bits of rock flying round space, and the Earth's their grave," he tells us with memorable imagery.
Not the kind of talk you expect from a farmer's son, but this is a show that delights in subverting expectations.
Laurence Falconer's 'A Lamentable Lullaby By A Lost Lothario' displays that rarest of specimens – a conspicuously unhappy young Irish male in a bar. He's got his glass of stout, and his phone, and he's still unhappy, and tells us in no uncertain, but melodiously rhyming terms. Falling in love with a girl across a crowded bar room is dangerously close to corny, but Falconer convinces us with such mordant gloom that we remember how easily and frequently it's done.
Thwarted love is the main fuel that keeps these gaslights burning, along with traces of more combustible stuff like violence and suicide, but Kate Gilmore's 'A Spectacular Snippet From The Over- Zealous Zodiac Sweetheart' takes a more mockingly comic tone. It opens and closes with Gilmore's charming singing voice accompanied by Falconer's acoustic guitar, and involves heart-racing amounts of caffeine when a girl becomes infatuated with a waiter in a well-known chain of coffee shops.
Not every story shines, but there isn't a dull moment as our master of ceremonies – a top-hatted Ian Toner – whips the performers on and off stage with the pungent repartee of a circus ringmaster. Though the stage set is more evocative of the comedy club than the Big Top. A big neon Applause sign dominates the back wall, and the audience sits at small candle-lit tables.
For a new collective of young actors the performances are strong and confident, and there's obviously a pool of shared talents and skills to draw on. You never quite now who might do what in this production. If cabaret is the art of the unexpected then their cup runneth over.