One of the joys of going to the theatre is the unexpected; this was the case for Bill Kenwright’s production of Cabaret. An electronic display gave the mostly familiar warning, ‘This performance contains – smoke, flashing lights, loud noises, nudity.’ In the auditorium the fire curtain displays the word WILLCOMMEN; the show begins when the letter ‘O’ opens like a camera shutter to reveal the Master of Ceremonies who in song bids us welcome to the Kabarett.
The curtain goes up, the scene is set in Berlin, the year 1931, the location the licentious Kit Kat club. We are treated to suspenders, garters, leather shorts and burlesque dress for all performers who entertain us with song accompanied by sensuous gymnastical dance. In contrast there are episodes depicting the lives of ordinary Berliners. The effervescent MC remained a colourful and energetic character throughout the first act as the ‘liberty’ of the club unfolds.
Act one closed and there was a noticeable silence within our group as we all assimilated what we had seen. In act 2, the story becomes clearer as songs and narrative allude to the rise of the Nazi party. The songs and dances are no less powerful, but more restrained. Life for all Berliners was changing; the once enigmatic MC who had at one time parodied Hitler could only watch as the Kit Kat club is closed down.
Outstanding voices, remember some of the songs, Willkommer, Mein Herr, Money; fantastic choreography, brilliant acting, and nudity. Amazing production.