‘Berlin nightlife, my word, the world hasn’t seen anything like it! We used to have a first-class army, now we have first-class perversions! Vice galore! A fantastic choice! Something is happening – ladies and gentlemen – which mustn’t be missed.’ Klaus Mann, 1927
I honestly didn’t know this story and I genuinely didn’t know what to expect – but as I sit here writing this review, I have a huge smile inside when I think about the impact that John Partridge has had on me, and I can’t stop thinking about it.
The decadently debauched nightlife of early 30’s Berlin is something that has also passed me by – but WOW, wouldn’t I just love to go back and have a sneaky peak now!
I knew Cabaret was going to be good, but for me it was amazing. By far the best show I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a fair few. This show is hilarious, naughty, sad, tragic and beyond emotional – and as history slips by into never never land, a haunting reminder of this shocking period of persecution.
The show opens with Emcee (played by John Partridge) who gives us a brief glimpse into his world of The Kit Kat Club. His kinky leather lederhosen and over painted face tell us to buckle in and enjoy the ride …
Set in 1931 as the Nazi’s are rising to power, American novelist Cliff Bradshaw meets Ernst Ludwig as he arrives into Berlin, and Ludwig’s grooming of an unsuspecting Bradshaw begins. Ushered to a boarding house run by Ludwig’s friend Fraulein Schneider (played by the fabulous Anita Harris), Bradshaw finds himself indebted to the ‘business man’ after realizing he can’t meet Fraulein Schneider’s rent payments.
Ludwig invites him to his favourite Berlin haunt, The Kit Kat Club where we meet Emcee again, as he and his fellow ‘entertainers’ shock the audience with a raunchy first number which certainly gets the blood racing! The scene is set for the spiral into darkness which is about to ensue.
Bradshaw bumps into old flame Bobby back stage, and it’s here that we first learn about their homosexual rendezvous back in London. Whilst back stage, he also meets the sexy English star of the show Sally Bowles, and their hedonistic love affair begins.
Sally moves into Fraulein Scheider’s boarding house and we meet some of her other residents, most importantly Frauline Kost – a worldly wise prostitute and the kind and elegant Herr Schultz, a humble fruit vendor who quietly and sweetly woos Fraulein Scheider and as anti-Semitism builds throughout the narrative, Herr Schultz’s relationship to Fraulein Schneider, a gentile, is increasingly at risk, as is his own security.
Life gets more racy at The Kit Kat Club and Bradshaw is sent on regular missions to Paris by Ludwig, who’s identity is revealed at Herr Schultz and Fraulein Scheider’s engagement party as a Nazi officer.
As Herr Schultz sings about ‘Life Being Beautiful Here’, Sally Bowles has fallen pregnant and Fraulein Scheider is threatened by Ludwig to end her engagement to the adorable Herr Schultz. Emcee continues to shock the audience with his bizarre storytelling – and that story gets darker and darker until the final scene, which left me as cold as ice.
I have never heard a stage voice like Kara Lily Hayworth (Sally Bowles) who is also exceptional, prepare yourself for her moment when she sings ‘Life is a Cabaret, old chum’ as the story descends into darkness.
But I promise you will not be able to take your eyes off John Partridge. He is seriously something else.
If you are able to get tickets, then please get to Storyhouse this week and experience this unbelievable show for yourselves.