The Vaults, London – until 28 January 2018
Once again the Vault Festival has opened its doors. Spanning over two months it’s your chance to watch a number of diverse shows. It’s a real opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and experience something different. I love this festival, which now in its sixth year has over 300 shows for you to explore.
So without further ado what do you know about Marlene Dietrich? If like me you know of her rather than about her, then I suggest you take yourself along to the Vault Festival and take in Natural Duty.
Created and performed by Peter Groom, I learned about the Hollywood icon and her immense sense of duty. This show which is a mixture of cabaret and drag is totally captivating. In just over 60 minutes, it gives you a feeling of the era and an unexpected insight into the challenges that faced Dietrich.
With the beginning of US involvement in the war in 1941, Dietrich became one of the first celebrities to raise war bonds. She entertained the troops on the frontlines by singing and playing the musical saw. In response to being asked why she chose to do this, Dietrich replied: “It was the decent thing to do.”
Would we give a rank and uniform to a Hollywood star now and send them to the frontline of a world war to entertain the troops for three years? I don’t believe we would, so it is possibly shocking that this happened, but what was more of a surprise to me was that Dietrich did it because of her sense of duty.
People are all to quick to pass judgment on actors without knowing the full story. Her sense of needing to do something for the morale of her adopted country was truly inspiring.
Groom is every ounce glamour personified (I definitely had eyes on the magnificent dress) but it is the dedication to the subject matter that is to be applauded here. Both the mannerisms and delivery are breathtaking and totally spellbinding. Hours of research and observation must have gone into this performance.
In summary: Dietrich – Natural Duty flies by and ends at the perfect moment. It’s such an interesting piece that you’d like more but are satisfied that you have been educated and thoroughly entertained. Peter Groom as Marlene Dietrich is enigmatic, engaging and totally captivating.