Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
The Playhouse Theatre
5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
What to say about Cabaret?!
It’s a truly profound experience!
Stripped right back to a tiny space but SO much packed into this incredible space including a revolving stage and a central trap door for surprise entrances & exits, along with a central rising platform.
Plus a truly fabulous band in the dress circle boxes on both sides of the space, and a completely redesigned audience space on both sides, including small tables & drinks ledges, as well regular seating. You are so close to the actors you can practically reach out and touch them! Incredibly intimate!
The experience begins though in the Playhouse foyer that is completely unrecognisable having been redesigned to become the Berlin Kit Kat Club, with still life line drawings all over walls and ceiling alongside gold walls and a fantastical gold centre ceiling with a performance area above the entrance champagne bar, before you even get inside the theatre!
The whole ambience and redesign of the foyer is breathtaking!
As for the production itself, it is truly incredible. A feast for the eyes, ears and senses, deeply profound, with an ominous, cloud of fascism pervading throughout to a harrowing ending…
Kander and Ebb’s 1966 musical is set in Berlin on New Year’s Eve 1929 as the Nazis begin to make their prescience felt.
The reveal of a swastika on the arm of Ernst Ludwig (Stewart Clarke) evoked an audible gasp from the audience and sent shivers up the spine.
Eddie Redmayne as Emcee was mesmerising throughout ~ very physical, lithe and so evocative as well as super witty and nuanced! What a privilege to see! His costumes were fantastical, full of imagery and menace as well as theatrics.
All costumes were amazing, as were the overall design, set and staging and the band was tremendous These creatives should also win accolades and Oliviers!
For myself, the heart of this production are Liza Sadovy as Fraulein Schneider and Elliot Levey as Herr Schultz, filling the space with such emotion in their performances!
Sally is a bit more complicated for me.
A fantastic performance without doubt and a definite contender for best actress in a musical awards. I’m a great admirer of Jessie Buckley in general ~ I have loved everything she has done. I love that she has made Sally so different from other Sally’s I’ve seen and her take on Maybe This Time was incredibly intense and moving though not the ‘stand and deliver’ we all expect and know.
Personally I still marginally prefer Liza (with a z) singing Maybe This Time as a ‘stand alone’, but for this production, Buckley is spot on ~ raw and angry, there’s nothing but despair and her rendition will surely continue to bring the house down every night! Overall her Performance is drier and more brittle and perhaps we don’t care as much about her as a result (though a I’ve heard others say her performance made them care more! Vive La difference!) which felt a bit strange, but actually an honest, real capture of Sally Bowles.
Anna Jane Casey (Fraulein Kost) could say only one line in any show and still take over! Charisma and presence in spades! Omari Douglas’ as Cliff was empathetic and he engages our sympathies.
No weak links in a the cast whatsoever!
The ensemble are brilliant…
I still can’t get over how they managed to do so much on such a tiny tiny stage playing to both sides of the theatre!
Rebecca Frecknall’s direction is an absolute triumph. A complete re-imagining of a classic which will surely take it’s place as one of the great productions of anything. Familiar lines and songs were heard as for the first time and understanding and meaning re-examined.
“Life is disappointing” Emcee remarks as he opens the show, but then we are also reminded that along with ‘Money Makes The World Go Around’ (and that is sadly never more true than it is today 💔) that ‘Life is (also) a Cabaret’
Do yourselves a favour and spend more than you would ordinarily do and grab yourselves a ticket to a theatrical masterpiece…
Meanwhile, enjoy these awesome production photos by Marc Brenner…
Mozart to Musicals