STAGE REVIEW: PUG @ Tyneside Irish Centre (26.4.18) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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This wasn’t my first PUG Night. I’ve been to most of them. It’s difficult at this point to decide whether PUG has become the best-bar-none cheesy disco in Newcastle preceded by a night of quality performances, or one of the best performance variety nights in the North East followed by a banging disco. So I’m gonna sit on the glitter sprinkled fence and say it’s both.

Beginning by unveiling their ‘2nd pop single’, dressed in Hawaiian shirts and short shorts, hosts Rosa Postlethwaite, Hannah Walker and Jamie Cook brought their trademark mix of holiday camp silliness before introducing the evening’s four performances:

Lost Voice Guy (Lee Ridley) has been performing stand up comedy since 2012 and is the first comedian to do so using a communication aid. Winner of the BBC Comedy Award 2014 and with a sitcom on Radio 4 out this year, its easy to see why the accolades have been flying in. Using an ipad to speak, Lost Voice Guy’s set mixed gently self-derogatory humour with cutting political commentary on the government’s approach to disability and had the audience in the palm of his hand.

Next was Rhys Slade-Jones, who brought a volcano of Welsh campness, costumes, loud singing and a look back to the not-oppressive-honestly rugby club in the valleys at which all of their family bar Rhys had thrived. With a mix of memoir, sass and just a touch of shambles, this was a defiant performance from a confident performer.

After the break, was Chunny Parmar. Chunny performed a spoken word poem charting his life growing up as a British Indian man and spoke for unity amongst all people. It’s a stunning poem that I’ve had the pleasure to hear once before at an event at The Cluny a few months ago. That was Chunny’s first performance and his stage presence has grown since. He’s surely set to be a bright spark on the spoken word scene and I’m looking forward to hearing more from him.

The final performance of the night came from Soca-To-Me, a dance double act who performed a piece utilizing the art of Mappuka, a tribal fertility dance from the Ivory Coast, known commonly to many people as ‘twerking’. This performance was absolutely electric. Sensual, bombastic, vulnerable and explosive.

And then the night finished, as always, with a set from the irreplaceable aviator and moustache clad DJ Barry. This character, played to immersive perfection by Jamie Cook, is possibly one of best things Newcastle has ever invented, including but not limited to Brown Ale, Auf-wiedersehen Pet and the steam train, and has to be witnessed.

If you haven’t made it along to a PUG Night yet, do. It’s a night that transcends the binary between high-brow and low-brow entertainment and makes the distinction irrelevant. There really is something for everyone.

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