Playhouse, Edinburgh – until 14 November 2017
Guest reviewer: Liv Ancell
With the two headliners of this show – Will Young and Louise Redknapp – being bona-fide British primetime celebrities and regular tabloid fodder, its no wonder that Edinburgh turned out in force to see Cabaret, director Rufus Norris’ latest show.
While Louise and Will may have been the initial draw for some, they will have no doubt left the theatre feeling utterly bowled over by the timeless storyline, endearing characters, and unbeatable music of Cabaret.
What a test of stamina this show is for all involved! The frantically pulsating and contorting cast whirl around the stage at an alarming rate. The choreography was a level above anything else I’ve seen in recent times – the cast members pulled off gruelling moves which were positively acrobatic and perfectly timed.
Belting out Cabaret’s signature songs must be a challenging task; this musical feat was made even more impressive while simultaneously cartwheeling, gyrating, prancing and frolicking. Such sophisticated choreography from Javier du Frutos – especially in Wilkommen and The Money Song – really reinforced this show’s status as world-class.
Louise Redknapp gave everything to this performance, and the volumes to her voice will be sure to silence anybody who may have been skeptical about whether her popstar voice would survive a stage performance. From charming to sultry, to showgirl and seductive, her singing was a complete triumph. Charles Hagerty played Clifford Bradshaw wonderfully; embodying the morally righteous and somewhat naïve American author. His acting was second to none and he subtly conveyed an impressive range of emotions on stage.
This being said, Will Young is just in a class of his own. He wears the garb of the inimitable Emcee with utter brilliance. With incredible expression and by masterful voice control, Will gave the ultimate portrayal of the quirky and coquettish clown of the Berlin cabaret scene. His Emcee was equal parts playful and dark, and his German accent and sing-song voice was perfectly measured.
The raciness and nudity in the show was perfectly balanced by a more despairing and serious storyline. Nazi undercurrents perfectly underpinned the storyline, with the rising prejudice of the time tastefully portrayed and immortalised in this production. The ever endearing Herr Shultz – our patient and adorable Jewish man – was a stand-out character, and Linal Haft gave a commendable performance in this crucial role. His companion, Fraulein Kost (Basienka Blake) was equally commanding, and she too gave a convincing performance, not breaking her accent even during song.
The final scene – which I won’t give away – was sad and beautiful. The high tempo energy of Cabaret couldn’t keep going forever, and it left viewers with a lesson in history to remember. This show is incredible; it will invoke all sorts of emotions, including wonder, amazement and awe. I’d highly recommend going along if it comes to a theatre near you next; it’s absolutely unmissable!
Cabaret is at the Edinburgh Playhouse until November 18th before continuing its tour.