Jonny Woo at Bistrotheque


Written by Gedvile Bunikyte
12 Monday 12th November 2007

We sent down Gedvile Bunikyte (you may remember her as part of performance art collective NeveroddoreveN, from this article) to review the performance and the food. Afterwards we asked her and Jonny Woo to give us an hour by hour account of their evenings. Here’s how the night went, from both sides of the curtain.

5:20 – Jonny Woo: Mum and Dad were coming down that night and I really do not like performing when my parents are there. I don’t remember where I was boozing last night, but resultantly I spend most of the day on the sofa. Cider and cigarettes have done my voice no favours. I always get a bit stressed when I talk to my Dad. It makes me feel like a 14-year-old. It’s probably too late to meet up with them now, so I head down to Bistrotheque and start warming up.

6:00 – Gedvile Bunikyte: In an ideal world, we have already left and are considering stopping off for a drink before our 6:45 dinner reservation at Bethnal Green eatery Bistrotheque. This will not happen. We are late… again.

6:30 – JW: I finish going over my songs so I meet the parents for a drink while they decide on dinner. I always get anxious before a show. It is not a good time to talk to me.

In some alternative dimension Carrie was a drag queen and things worked out much better for her

7:00 – GB: We should be tucking into our starters around now, but instead I am calling the restaurant to apologise while making a panicked departure.

7:00 – JW: Make-up time is focus time. I’ve had stage fright once before. It’s like a bad trip. I press my middle finger and thumb together and imagine a successful show. I saw someone do this on TV once.

7:30 – GB: Having lost our way we have to call for directions several times. We finally arrive at the address. Will be using Google Map next time. Thankfully the staff prove to be very helpful and understanding, advising us on the speediest dishes to order if we are to make the show.

7:50 – JW: I’m ready ahead of schedule. The show usually begins at 8.15 although we are scheduled to start at 8pm. It's a bit like limbo for that 15 mins. I always pace before I start a show. I am like a nutter. Up and down, going over the tongue twister.

7:50 – GB: The food arrives and we eat hurriedly. I have the pan fried gnocchi, which is tasty. The accompanying vegetables are crunchy fresh. The accompanying tomato-based sauce is slightly overpowering however. My boyfriend goes for the lamb Navarin, the juice for which has a generous body of flavour and brings the meat and root vegetables together pleasantly… or so he says.

8:13 – JW: John the tech guy gets me to go on and I take my place behind the curtain. My mum and dad are not in my direct line of sight, but I can see them from the stage. I sit behind the curtain in the side light and balance my pointed hat, but can’t get it to sit right. I cannot move my head or it will fall off. I take a deep breath. The curtain opens and at 8:15 the show begins.

I really don't know what to read into the Mickey Mouse gloves

8:14 – GB: We finish up and adjourn to the cabaret room, where Jonny Woo will be performing. Thankfully we arrive just before the show begins. The room is small in comparison to the expansive, white space of the main restaurant and being filled to capacity the anticipation focussed upon the stage is palpable.

8:20 – JW: My singing voice is not amazing. The tongue twister is next. Halfway through and my heart beats faster as I become aware of the words and I have to concentrate on not pre-empting myself. After that I’m over the hill and settle into the rhythm of the show. Even my parents' presence doesn’t worry me.

8:20 – GB: The performance begins with a tableau – a silent sequence of facial expressions and gestures. The crowd is enthralled and it’s instantly clear that Woo is a skilled performer.

8:50 – JW: The mic stops working, which is a bugger. I do the show acapella, which works but the audience is especially silent so they can hear and I am disappointed that my parents did not get to see the best show. I had been going so well.

8:50 – GB: Jonny changes into a gold swimsuit, which his physique allows him to pull off. His story-telling skills focus the audience and his spell is unbroken by technical problems. The spoken word performance is particularly impressive.

9:15 – JW: I have a drink with my parents. They meet the trannies (Lipsinkers) who make up the next show. After they leave I think I get drunk again and go to bed wondering what the hell I am going to do for Gay Bingo the next day.

9:30 – GB: The next act up are The Lipsinkers, a gang of drag queens who give a comic visual aspect to classic tracks by miming along to the lyrics. This is an enjoyable dessert to Jonny’s show, and an amusing ending to the evening.

Bistrotheque is open for dinner throughout the week and serves brunch on the weekends. It's situated at 23-27 Wadeson Street, E2 9DR. For bookings call 020 8983 7900. Check their website at

Check out Jonny Woo at

Ghostwritten by James Read.

Main photograph by Simon Phillips, others by Simon Phipps

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