Night of legends above an Islington boozer

Cleo Sylvestre launches her blues career at Rosemary Branch Islington London 171014 N1 ©

THE LAST TIME I bumped into Cleo Sylvestre was on the bus after a night at the theatre. But whereas I was bound for a cup of cocoa and bed at my Dalston home from, she was off to Shoreditch for a spot of clubbing.

It was typical of a woman who woke up one morning and decided she wanted to add blues singer to her CV at an age when some people are trying to read the fine print of their pension.

She was singing in a Kingsland Road dive last week but her main gig is her hour-long tribute to Mary Seacole (1805-1881), the Scottish Jamaican presented as a role model to many British children. The legendary medic is to become the first black woman to have a statue erected in England for her achievements.

Role models: Seacole, above, and Sylvestre

Seacole, left, and Sylvestre

That honour is in no small part thanks to Sylvestre, who has been campaigning for the Seacole statue appeal, presenting her show for the House of Lords and London City Hall and other venues.

This time she will stage it at the Rosemary Branch as part of the pub-theatre’s 20th anniversary. Twenty years of providing great shows in a tiny theatre above a fine pub in east Islington. Come on Hackneyites, support a great institution! And the Rosemary Branch.

David Altheer 060316

* The Marvellous Adventures of Mary Seacole, written and performed by Cleo Sylvestre, will play at the Rosemary Branch Theatre, 2 Shepperton Road N1 3DT (76 bus stops near  by), Wed 9 March 2016-Thurs 10 March 2016, 7.30pm, £11-£13; Fri 11 March 2016, special performance, with rum punch, Q and A and mystery guest, £25. The pub has a disabled-access toilet.

* Backstory: Boogie down, blues it up; Life-changing Hackney-borders theatre

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

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