BWW Reviews: CABARET, Bristol Hippodrome, September 17 2013
Brilliantly barmy, deliciously dark and ultimately harrowingly hard-hitting - that's how I would describe the current UK tour of Cabaret.
I saw a production of this musical a few years back in the West End, and while I enjoyed it, I don't remember being quite as taken with it as I was tonight at the Bristol Hippodrome. With this touring production, everything seemed to gel together seamlessly to create a well-rounded, entertaining and thought-provoking piece of theatre, from the cast and band to the choreography and set.
Will Young was sublimely creepy as the Emcee, taking the audience on a journey through tawdry and decadent Berlin in the early 1930s. Starting off as more of a comical, odd-ball character, Young paces his performance well, gradually becoming more and more sinister and unhinged - by the end of act one, the unsettling parallels between the unnerving Master of Ceremonies and Hitler are all too apparent. The staging of Tomorrow Belongs to Me is cleverly done, with the song going from Young singing beautifully and bringing an air of peacefulness to the piece, to packing a punch with his disconcerting puppeteer act as he manipulates the Kit Kat Club dancers to do his bidding.
Siobhan Dillon was beautifully barking as Sally Bowles, the hyperactive, drug-addled star of the Kit Kat Club. With her incessant talking and rather intense personality, Sally Bowles is a role which can easily be played in such a way as to become annoying, losing the audience's attention and earning little more than apathy, but Dillon put in an utterly stellar performance, keeping the whirlwind essence of the character while giving her a heart and winning our affection. Dillon backs up her remarkable acting performance with some impressive vocals, which I must admit gave me chills during Mein Herr. Her shining moment comes during Maybe This Time, which is performed with such a deep emotional connection that one could not help but be sucked in.
Matt Rawle puts in a solid performance as Clifford Bradshaw, the closeted bisexual American novelist new to Berlin who soon learns to embrace his sexuality, and who falls in love with Sally Bowles. Rawle successfully demonstrates Bradshaw's transition from naïve newbie to outraged American, disgusted at what he is witnessing and in fear of what is to come. Although I didn't feel that he and Dillon's relationship was that of a couple madly in love, and instead was more of a caring, convenient one, I felt that it worked rather well given the situation both characters were in. Linal Haft as Herr Schultz and Lyn Paul as Fraulein Schneider were wonderful as the ageing and ill-fated couple in their autumn years, bringing a sense of normality, kindness and reality to the dealings and debauchery of the Kit Kat Club. I must also mention the ensemble, who all gave extremely strong performances, and delivered Javier De Frutos' Fosse-esque choreography with energy and passion.
I shan't spoil the show by giving away the ending, but it is certainly unexpected and hard-hitting. During the final moments of the show, an audience which had loudly cheered the Emcee at his first appearance, laughed raucously through several songs, and giggled girlishly at the unforeseen appearance of a naked man, suddenly fell eerily silent. It may be a cliché, but you could have heard a pin drop in the Bristol Hippodrome tonight, and I, for one, was in tears.
I'm sad to say that this show is only in town for one week, so shimmy on down to the Bristol Hippodrome and bag yourself a ticket.