Theatre: Cabaret

It is a rare theatrical experience when somebody sitting next to you, who you have just met, gets up at the intermission and declares to you and all around "This is SHIT!" But that's what happened Wednesday night when I saw a preview of Cabaret. He left at that point but later on I heard another audience member mutter about who the lead actress must have slept with to get the role… Everyone knew they were in the presence of a megabomb. What can you say about a production where when the Emcee asks, "Where are your troubles now?" somebody in the audience calls out "In Islington!" I'm not quite sure what that meant but it was one of the few laughs of the evening.

It is odd really, as a few years ago I saw an excellent Australian production of the Sam Mendes version that was exciting, well acted, well sung, fast paced and interesting. Tonight had none of this. Rufus Norris as director managed to
  • Take a number of talented actors and squeeze incredibly mediocre performances out of them.

  • Add a few bits of nudity that didn't make any sense and also looked dull. By the time the finale came and the cast were again stripping down you could hear the sighs in the audience...

  • Add large dildos fashioned out of pantyhose and fake tits for various unknown reasons.

  • Add songs that were even cut from the original production (there was good reason why "I don't care much" didn't make it).
The production designer, working on must have been a £50 budget covered everything with a purple velvet which looked dull and cheap even from the second row. The costumes, when they weren't just a bit of minge, testicles and pimpled buttocks, also looked like they had been purchased from RoB and would have looked better off in a fetish bar.

As for the cast, Anna Maxwell Martin as Sally Bowles was a little bit too talentless and irritating. When the Nazis came to beat up Cliff I was hoping that they would also get Sally too. Alas they didn't so she did get to sing the finale. It wasn't pretty. James Dreyfus as the Emcee could sing, but not really any of the music as we know it. He was a pretty bland Emcee. Sheila Hancock also featured in the show too but was she any good? No. I guess even theatre royalty needs to work, what would do? Kander and Ebb's music didn't stand a chance alas. My nomination for this season's worst musical.

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