16 October 2019

Cabaret - Curve Review

Kander and Ebb's iconic multi-award winning musical, Cabaret, arrives at Curve as part of it's UK tour.
The cast of Cabaret. Photo by The Other Richard.
Set in Berlin in 1931, a troubling time with the Nazi's power rising. This troubling time is reflected in the staging. Katrina Lindsay's design is dark and quite simple but it's richly enhanced with tremendous lighting designed by Tim Oliver.

We enter a world of sex and jazz in the Kit Kat Club. John Partridge plays the Emcee and right from the opening he is on fine form. Here is an actor so perfectly cast. He nails the dry humour and the sinister elements superbly. His makes his Emcee so complex and layered and that makes the final sequences are particularly powerful.

Into this world enters American novelist, Cliff Bradshaw, played by effectively by Charles Hagerty. He's a calming influence on the madcap happenings that go on around him. He meets German Ernst Ludwig (played by Nick Tizzard) at the border and they strike a relationship that carries through the piece.

Ernst recommends Cliff a place to stay with Fraulein Schneider. Anita Harris shows all the class of her experienced career in this role. She is just a delight to watch. She's deeply effecting and moving especially the number "What Should I Do". Fraulein Schneider's gentleman friend, Herr Schultz, is classily played by James Paterson. The relationship these two go through is the stark reality of life in Nazi Germany.

Cliff meets the carefree Cabaret performer Sally Bowles and their spark is instant. Kara Lily Hayworth brings confidence to her Sally but under her happy exterior, she expresses the vulnerability extremely well.  Kara's "Maybe This Time" is delivered with such heart that you feel such empathy for the character. Kara is certainly a performer at the top of her game.
John Partridge (Emcee). Photo by The Other Richard.

As the story progresses and the dark clouds of the Nazi rule have more of an influence on the proceedings cracks begin to appear in all of the relationships. The lure and love of the Cabaret are too much in the end for Sally as she stays behind as Cliff heads back to America for safety. I won't spoil the "twist" at the end but if you're expecting a happy ending then this isn't the show for you.

Dazzling choreography is provided by Javier De Frutos. The talented company perform his technically difficult movement well. "Two Ladies" is a particularly brilliant number, a visual treat.

At a run time of 2 and a half hours (including the interval), it does feel a little long in places. Some of the dialogue scenes between musical numbers do drag a little but Rufus Norris has done a splendid job with a dark and difficult story.

The world of Cabaret is dark but the overriding message of living for the moment. It's a message that will always resonate with audiences. Whilst you take away the horrors of what life must have been like in those situations of Nazi Germany it's also a celebration of life. "Life is a Cabaret old chum" and this production is superbly spellbinding.

Rating: ★★★★
Kara Lily Hayworth (Sally Bowles) & Charles Hagerty (Cliff Bradshaw).
Photo by The Other Richard.
Cabaret plays at Curve until Saturday 19th October 2019. To book visit https://www.curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/cabaret-musical/
The UK tour continues with dates booking through till late November visit https://www.kenwright.com/portfolio/cabaret/ for the full tour schedule.

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