“Life’s not fair so neither is bingo!” declares Ida Barr, Edwardian come urban grooves music hall star. This is our catchphrase shouted with gusto; it sums up the mixture of old-school family fun and satire tinged with melancholy that is Barr’s particular style of comedy.
Sharp as a blade but warm as your granny, Barr delights with improvised humour and traditional music hall numbers mashed-up with popular R&B tunes.
Sharp as a blade but warm as your granny, Barr delights with improvised humour and traditional music hall numbers mashed-up with popular R&B tunes. Her audience ranges from age 5 to 75 and a show of hands reveals that all but three have never ventured into the realms of bingo before. There is tangible excitement in the air as we are asked to “pick up yer dabbers” and bingo cards, and the “top prizes” are unveiled as the net curtain is whisked back. After a quick bingo warm up number, there is much mirth as Barr launches into her topical bingo calls: there are hostages, dictators, political heroes, painkillers, ailments and of course, “just because we’re having fun, don’t forget the criminally insane”, Broadmoor 34. Barr likes to inject jeopardy into the proceedings so we are warned to check the sell-by date of prizes and the star prize, a limited edition figurine of the Queen Mother, is tantalisingly unobtainable due to dangerous levels of asbestos.
The atmosphere was a little hindered by the seating layout which would have benefitted from a more sociable cabaret style arrangement of tables and chairs, rather than the rows of formal seating provided. This two hour event could also have been shorter and a little tighter to really make this a top standard show.
With lots of audience participation, jeopardy, sing-a-longs, catchphrases, genuine excitement and, of course, the inimitable wit and talent of Ida Barr herself; Ida Barr Bingo is great family fun without the cheese and a brilliant initiation for newcomers to bingo.