Berlin Cabaret of Desire conceived by Paul Barrett, John Verryt and Jennifer Ward-Lealand of Silo Theatre, Auckland. Directed by Naomi Brouwer at The Street Theatre, April 11-12, 15-19, 22-26, 2008, at 8pm, Matinees: 13 & 20 April at 4pm.
Bookings: 6247 1223 or online www.thestreet.org.au
Silo Theatre has an established program dedicated to presenting what I might call Art Theatre. The nearest equivalent in Sydney might be Belvoir B. The Street Theatre has a program made up by collecting all sorts of productions for a wide range of audiences. This presentation of Berlin Cabaret of Desire is a brave attempt, reasonably successful, but unable to match the quality required by the material.
Prior publicity gave the impression that we would experience the “lust and anarchy of the Weimar Republic”, but the show consists of songs by Mischa Spoliansky, Frederick Hollander and Kurt Weill whose work focussed on biting political satire, some of which originally appeared in Berlin cabarets in the 1920s and 1930s, while much of Weill’s work was written for plays by Bertolt Brecht. Of the three singers, Stephen Anderson was the most consistent, Justine Campbell succeeded in the lighter comedy, while both Campbell and Ruth Rogers-Wright struggled, though sincerely, with the more difficult Weill material in particular.
The band was rarely able to produce the gutsy harshness of tone and rhythm which Weill requires, being rather too smooth and sonorous, though the music certainly held the show together, and its leader Tim Hansen on piano made a successful MC.
The result overall was enjoyable, while the aerial acrobatic performances by Tyler Ayres were exciting. Even though it was not clear why these were included, Ayres’ fluidity of movement and demanding choreography focussed attention and justifiably received the most applause. The other highlights, in my view, were the song of hypocrisy and democracy - Hollander’s Oh How We Wish That We Were Kids Again - and the beautifully sung but by now ironic ending, Die Lorelei.
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