Touring – reviewed at New Wimbledon Theatre
After Germany’s defeat in World War 1, the treaty of Versaille was set out to totally humiliate the nation; inflation rocketed and the economy flew into a downward spiral. This was eventually stabilised, but people had seen themselves and those around them lose everything so the idea of ‘seizing the day’ was adopted and Berlin because a heaving Bohemian world where you lived to enjoy the here and now.
This is when we are thrown into the world of Cabaret. It’s 1930 New Years Eve, a young American writer, Clifford Bradshaw has just arrived in Berlin and is ready to see what the city has to offer.
The show is a full-on cacophony of things with dance, drink and drugs taking the lead as people relished in the decadent, censorship-free lifestyle.
The set by Katrina Lindsay manages to be bright and dark at the same time. There are moments of intense glitz and glam with flashing lights and moving sets but also moments of dim, dark spaces which imply what’s to come as the golden age passes.
The rise of fascism is extremely prevalent in Rufus Norris‘ production especially the chilling final scene of act 1 when the Emcee turns into a puppet master, holding overgrown children at the end of strings as he sings the Aryan folk song Tomorrow Belongs To Me.
As the Emcee, Will Young is outstanding, suitably wacky but all-knowing at once. His comedic timing is wonderful as he soars through the notes with a sinister hint always shining through. Young is certainly the star of this show and it’s clear why he was asked back to be part of the tour and his balloon clad rendition of Money was the stand out performance of the production for me.
Louise Redknapp takes on the iconic role of Sally Bowles, the British showgirl who has lost her way. Unfortunately Redknapp’s performance fell flat at times; instead of showing a crumbling, emotional girl she was decadent, bold and showed very minimal signs of her struggle. At times her voice was strong but fell flat on her big number, Maybe This Time. Sally Bowles was originally written to be a somewhat second rate performer which is why she has previously been cast as an actress who can sing and opposed to a singer who can act however, Louise kind of fell in between the two.
Charles Hagerty is strong as Clifford, developing his various relationships well. His voice is incredibly strong and his performance of Why Should I Wake Up? is a stand out moment. A large part of the action has to do with Clifford’s landlady Fräulein Schneider (Susan Penhaligon) and her relationship with the local Jewish fruit seller (Linal Schultz) as their normal lives begin to be put in jeopardy. The pair are great together and their affection for one another is very sweet to see.
This show is worth seeing for Young’s performance and for the bold imaginative design and choreography but it needs more oomph overall.