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BWW Review: DIETRICH: NATURAL DUTY – ADELAIDE FRINGE 2019 at Noel Lothian Hall, Adelaide Botanic Gardens

BWW Review: DIETRICH: NATURAL DUTY – ADELAIDE FRINGE 2019 at Noel Lothian Hall, Adelaide Botanic Gardens Reviewed by Fiona Talbot-Leigh, Thursday 21st February 2019.

As part of the Noel Lothian Hall offerings this year, Jimmy Jewell and Joanne Hartstone have produced an absolute gem. Dietrich: Natural Duty, created and performed by Peter Groom, is a must-see at this year's Fringe. This show was co-written and directed by Oliver Gully and the result is as stunning as Dietrich's gown.

Groom steps onstage in the most exquisite beaded gown by costume designer Kathleen Nellis. A nod, no doubt, to Dietrich's daringly sheer dress, dubbed the 'nude dress', which attracted a lot of attention in its day. Groom strikes a perfect figure, with makeup to match. His wig, by WigChapel, was coiffed to perfection to complete his incredible look. What Groom pulls off with makeup and costume alone is nothing short of exquisite. When I was a young girl I used to watch the old black and white movies with the beautiful movie stars in them and could only dream of being in the same room as them. Well, on this night, I got my wish.

From the moment Groom speaks, the space is transformed, and all there were riveted as we were so elegantly, yet casually, invited into Dietrich's world. Groom's accent and German is as flawless as his look. He also, beautifully, takes down the fourth wall, with the most subtle of requests at times from the audience which makes the performance quite surreal.

This show gives a brief insight into Dietrich's life as we are taken from her first screen test all the way to the frontlines of war, as Dietrich made her way there in 1942 after being invited to boost the soldier's morale.

Groom's singing voice is pitch-perfect and he adapts Dietrich's Sprechgesang (spoken singing) style perfectly. I always found Dietrich to have quite a masculine sound and so, to hear her songs sung by Groom, made the experience all the more real for me.

This show is presented in such a simple way, but the result is quite remarkable, thanks to Fraser Craig's lighting design, and sound by Kieran Lucas. Groom, being the consummate performer that he is, takes everything in his beautiful stride and seems to glide effortlessly from one scene to the next.

He has the most expressive eyes that fill with tears and exude such passion that one couldn't help but be moved, especially during Pete Seeger's Where Have All the Flowers Gone. The audience was also treated to some of Dietrich's classics, such as Lili Marlene, Boys in the Backroom, Lola, and Falling in Love Again.

This one (wo)man show is simply divine. Groom's singing, acting, comic timing, and dance skills bring this show to life. You will not find a sexier, nor classier, cabaret performer than Groom during this year's Fringe; take my word for it. See FringeTix for details and try to catch a performance before this gorgeous performer leaves our shores.

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