A Night with Joe Rubini and The Spooks

CLAUDIA BLUNT gets spooked by an un-renovated spirit at the Corpus Playroom.

anachronism Blues coccyx Corpus Playroom ghosts Joe Rubini reel to reel

Corpus Playroom, 9:30pm, 10th October,  £5 – £6


‘There’s blues, and then there’s zipididooda.’ 

It was with trepidation that I hauled my shattered coccyx out of bed and staggered to the newly revamped and frankly swanky Corpus Playroom last night. The news from others about the smell of cleanliness and removal of all rising damp was indeed a marvel worth ogling at.  The long arm of ADC efficiency has swept over to St Edmund’s passage…  huzzah and hurrah. If you haven’t seen the ADC’s newly polished little brother yet – go. A new mould-free age has dawned on Cambridge Theatre, long may it continue.

It was only fitting that the first night of the Playroom’s renaissance should welcome a self-styled Cambridge rock star. This self-described ‘poor pupetty player’ descended onto the Playrooms with all the swagger and chutzpah that a Birmingham junk-yard poet requires. Armed with ancient technology which would reduce any Cambridge techie to a cold sweat Rubini brought a night of bewitching blues music to baptize the ‘new’ Corpus playroom in fire.

It is all too common in Cambridge to find people that are enamored to the point of obsession with a hobby. Rubini is no exception. The man is addicted to music. Here, the audience is watching substance abuse. An expert in rough-edged excellence, Rubini didn’t fail to leave his audiences in gob-smacked awe.

Rubini’s music is far from dulcet. The constant presence of reel-to-reel white noise and a metronome in the set gave an uneasy aural fuzz to the whole extravaganza. Not only this, but the lurking presence of Toby Parker-Rees’ chin from the tech desk kept the audiences on the edges of their seats. In fact, the very presence of Parker-Rees helped me understand exactly why Rubini had billed it as a ‘ghost show’.

Here stood in front of tiny twig-like Rubini the antithesis of what Cambridge theatre aspires to be: six-foot something of pure bouffon. It was as if with the Playroom revamp the ADC had tried to undertake an exorcism of the ghosts that continued to haunt the recesses of the Cambridge stage. Like a ghoul returning to dance the Tarantella blues on the face of the system.

Spine tinglingly beautiful blues music sprang from a reel-to-reel in a tiny corner of Cambridge last night. Spectral black and white images danced across Corpus’ newly washed walls as this magic show thrilled an electrified audience. Not flawless, but no rock star is, nor ever should be. But for a hypnotic hour or so this Southern Belle wasn’t sitting in a pokey Playroom in Cambridge, but sippin’ moonshine on the banks of the Talullah River and contemplating smokin’ another cigar.

The only harrowing thing about this horror show?  The fact that too many people missed it. One can only hope that Joe Rubini and his ghost show come back and haunt us very very soon.