Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum!


Theatre Severn

22nd-26th Ooctober 2019

(2.30 Matinee Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday)

Regular theatre goers will recognise the name Of Bill Kenwright Productions and will know that has always been a hallmark of a good show. One always gets a feeling of watching top West End stuff, thanks to the enterprising production company. This time they have gone one better if the level was already Ten this one goes all the way to Eleven.

Set in a 1930’s Germany, Cabaret, through use of Dance and Song, Cabaret takes you on a mysterious and frightening journey into a dystopian Germany where law and order are being taking over unopposed by Hitler’s Nazi Party.

 Using the allegory of a decadent club in Berlin, one gets drawn into the grotesque world that was being perpetuated and propogated by the Nazi Party. The acceptance and ignorance of the situation gives the image of Nero fiddling whilst Rome burns. That is what the writer Joe Masteroff skilfully set out to do. He wanted to show the horrors of a highly complex and complicated state of affairs portrayed through the eyes of a simple little Cabaret club and its members.

However we have known since its emergence in 1966 that Cabaret was something different. This is a show rather like Dickens’ eternal films; no matter how the allegory is performed, the message is strong and never hides. This was an awful time and juxta positioning the seriousness of the situation into the frivolity of a nightclub and the decadence of the cast, is a stroke of genius.

There was an interesting choice for the role of Emcee. John Partridge (Christian Clark..Eastenders ) His performance equalled and improved on anything one might see Joel Grey perform as Emcee in the blockbuster film of the same name. I say of the same name whilst though it is, there are big differences in the narrative and one is of the belief that this production sees a far superior story than the film, as the spirit of the characters are shown more human and even more foibled. I believe the role of Fraulein Shneider played by Anita Harris, is a crucial pivotal part of the plot which is missing entirely from the film. We watch her love grow with a man only to be dashed at the end because he is a Jew. Anita Harris is stunning and finds that air of sorrow about her character. Just another woman swept up in the horrors that were pre-war Germany. As for Mr. Partridge’s Emcee, one has never seen such a brilliant theatre performance, ever!

Charles Hagerty puts in a weighty and convincing performance as Cliff Bradshaw. One is hoping that Sally will run away with him and start a new free life. Sally Bowles is the star of the cabaret. Sublimely played byKara Lily Haworth (Cilla Black- Cilla The Musical) If one owned a night club in Nazi Germany one would need a Sally Bowles, but her character is merely an allegory for the destructive forces that were at work in Germany at that time. All extravagance and no substance: That sums up pre ’39 Germany.

The rest of the cast were wonderful with extremely high levels of excellence. The songs were amazingly sung and the dance moves, choreographed by Javier de Fruitos were so regimentally perfect one sees the effect of a Bob Fosse's very own approach to dance. Mr. De Frutos has achieved something quite remarkable with his work. Bodies work together in perfect synchronicity and the dance builds up the tension just as much as anything else that happened on that stage. There was no one on the stage that shouldn't be there and of those that were there their performances were utterly memorable.

The coming together of Rufus Norris’ direction and the design work of Katrina Lindsay has created a spark of brilliance that shines right through this wonderful performance.

The costumes are lavish, where on earth one lays one hands on a mountain of 1939 German lingerie one couldn’t imagine. But that they did and dressed the show so realistically. It looks breath taking.

The band so cleverly placed on the set, will have to be seen to be believed but to this humble reviewer this was yet another lesson on theatre production. The world goes on proving that Theatre is so much alive and just so potent.

The poignancy of the final scene wasn’t lost on the crowd. The pathos and drama injected into the final few moments sum up the show entirely and act as a warning to us all and that is, don’t let politics run away with your country. Will we listen, one wonders? Given the current political climate one seems convinced that even now we still go on giving too much power to too many people who may just well abuse it.

This is a breath taking, superb show, it has drama, comedy, singing , dancing and everything that sounds so good. How deliciously these mediums weave their way around the central core of this show and there is a fusion, a coming together that needs to be seen by as many people as possible. Quite, quite Brilliant.

This is a Five star review

Owen J. Lewis


Sofia Lewis Sofia Lewis
For many years Sofia wrote here under her male name Owen J. Lewis. She is now mostly writing under her own name of Sofia Lewis. Sofia, who worked on independent radio for over ten years, lives in Shrewsbury and writes plays. She has over 15 titles published and her plays are performed all over the world. She is especially popular in America. Her poetry is also often noted and she writes reams of it most weeks. Since graduating in theatre in 1997 Sofia has been an Actor, Filmmaker, and a Secondary School Teacher. Reviewing theatre is something she thoroughly enjoys and she loves to see great theatre. As a musician Sofia is known throughout the UK she is a folk singer, and is often seen or heard around her native county singing and having fun. Sofia has contributed to for over a decade and enjoys sharing her views on theatre. Sofia has one daughter and grew up in Church Stretton.

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