Skip to main content

Cabaret

Edinburgh Playhouse
4 stars
A recession always loves a musical. Kander and Ebb’s triumphantly feel-bad interpretation of Weimar era Berlin, though, not only charts the back-street decadence of dark times, but the accompanying rise of the extreme right and the persecution of minorities that goes with it. If ever a commercial block-buster chimed perfectly with the here and now, this is it. As Henry Luxemburg’s penniless writer Cliff Bradshaw falls in with an underground bohemian scene epitomised by good time chanteuse Sally Bowles, it’s what happens after someone calls time on the party that makes Cabaret so consistently fascinating.

Rufus Norris’ 2006 west end production is revived here in a touring incarnation that stays true to some of the original’s more maverick touches. This most notably stems from Javier de Frutos’ libidinous choreography and a concentration on the play’s more serious side. A jaunty first half is kicked off by Wayne Sleep’s impish Emcee peeking through a giant billboard on which the word ‘Willkomen’ is emblazoned like an epitaph. By the time the act ends with an Aryan youth singing Tomorrow Belongs To Me, Sally’s flibbertigibbet days look numbered.

There’s an irony in something so slickly realised depicting such a messy world, and at times one longs for things to be edgier. Yet there remains an integrity to the production, with some great performances on show. Making her professional debut as Sally, TV talent show contestant Samantha Barks may not yet have the full emotional range required for the role, but sings well and grows more comfortable as the evening progresses. The final image of the gas chambers and the silence that follows, however, is a chilling moment.

The Herald, March 25th 2009

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…