Please note, Mirth, Marvel & Maud is now closed. Time Out London Editors, January 2020.
First, let’s deal with that name. Pub-makeover aficionados Antic wanted to bring the mirth aspect back to this, a bar-cum-restaurant-cum-arts space within a disused, Grade II-listed Walthamstow cinema. Refurbishing it took a lot of time, money and care, so the process was something of a marvel. And, it turns out, Antic boss Anthony Thomas went to a similar place as a kid with his great aunt Maud. If that all sounds a bit tenuous, and merely an excuse to give the place a vague feeling of nostalgic glitz, then sure – and why not?
The space is split into two: ‘Mirth’ is the foyer bar and restaurant, ‘Maud’ the screening room arts space. From the gilt plasterwork, to the vintage furniture on the mezzanine, to the Sinatra seeping from the speakers, faded glamour is very much this place’s USP. It’s difficult to stand in the foyer and not picture the buzzing picture palace of a bygone East End.
Antic have applied a few neat little touches, like turning the old ticket kiosks into a cocktail bar, which offers a few neat spins on the classics (a Bloody Maud adds port and Mexican spices to the vodka, lemon and tomato juice). The main bar at the rear of the ground floor stocks the requisite local lagers and ales. Staff are chirpy.
Curiously, the outlandish nature of the venue is a double-edged sword when it comes to atmosphere. It was thrumming with life on a Friday evening, but on a deserted Sunday night it felt more spooky than swanky. But with an events programme packed with screenings, gigs, stand-up and DJ sets, sparse crowds shouldn’t be an issue for long. This feels like it might become E17’s answer to Wilton’s Music Hall. It might have one eye set on past glories, but the future looks bright for Mirth, Marvel and Maud.