Dame Sybille is at the Buzz Club, Manchester (0161-440 8662) on 13 Mar
What do you get if you cross Dame Edna Everage with Sir Bernard Chumley? The answer is Dame Sybille, a theatrical grande dame with more luvvie anecdotes than Ned Sherrin and Sheridan Morley put together. Resplendent in hat, gloves and pearl necklace, she claims to be 143 years old - and to have spent the last 120 of them building up stories in the theatre. She tells tales of entertaining the troops in the First World War, and of cavorting with Richard Burton and Richard Harris, to say nothing of "a horrifying story about Oliver Reed gluing things to tables".

She is the inspired creation of Sean Cullen, a mere 31-year-old. A member of the celebrated cabaret trio, Corky and The Juice Pigs, Cullen bases Dame Sybille on a tutor he had in drama college at the University of Windsor in his native Canada. "He was our vocal teacher and had been to Rada," Cullen recalls. "He'd say, `We used to go to parties on Peter O'Toole's barge and dance so furiously that it sank'. Dame Sybille takes the piss out of those stories of superhuman performance by exaggerating them to the nth degree."

Much of the show is improvised - a liberating experience for Cullen: "I can say things as Dame Sybille that I can't as myself. She is allowed to be naughty and cruel. She has every right to tell people how to behave, and they love that."

Cullen is planning a television vehicle in which Dame Sybille travels the world in a Zeppelin: "She bought it after the Hindenburg disaster at firesale prices. It would be like Dame Edna Everage meets The Poseidon Adventure."


The ever-waspish Donna McPhail heads the International Women's Day Show at the Hackney Empire, London E8 (0181-985 2424) tonight. Also in the line-up are up- and-coming comedian Gina Yashere, poet Cuban Red, and a trapeze artist called Kirsty Little