Skip to main content

1933: Eine Nacht im Kabbaret

Summerhall, Edinburgh
Three stars
It's telling that a climate of austerity has fostered a thriving alternative cabaret scene that recalls the early 1980s. Unfortunately, the same era's politics of prejudice and greed have also made a comeback. Both trends have inspired a rash of independent shoe-string theatre companies to embrace such a loose-knit aesthetic and apply it to work that is instinctively dissenting in tone.

Edinburgh's Tightlaced Theatre have done exactly that in Susanna Mulvihill's production of her own all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza that looks to Berlin's Weimar era for inspiration, but which at times sounds chillingly of the moment. The setting is Anke's club on the day that Adolf Hitler has seized power. With Anke and her staff who double up as the night's acts serving drinks to the audience sat at round wooden tables, what follows feels like eavesdropping on assorted intrigues while the all night party goes on.

While hostess Simone introduces a series of subtly satirical routines performed by her 'Ratlings', who include Anke's wannabe starlet daughter, Marieke, American newshound William soaks up the scene at a table shared with his latest flame Birgit. When Anke's Nazi-smitten son Dieter shows up with his superior to survey the decadence with Captain Voehner, it marks the last gasp for a microcosm of what will follow in the world at large.

While the ghost of Cabaret looms large, Mulvihill's play remains a boisterous and acerbic look at how how hard times can cause people to look for scapegoats as they fall for extremist ideologies. Only the distraction of running several scenes concurrently mars an otherwise highly-charged political burlesque which at times feels dangerously close to home.

The Herald, January 25th 2014



Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…


Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …