Cabaret

Wed 12th – Sat 15th November 2014

reviews

Francis Mullaly

at 22:08 on 12th Nov 2014

1agrees

0disagrees

DULOG's first production of the new academic year, Cabaret (1966), is an ambitious project for any student theatre company and marks a significant departure from their traditional showcase of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. However, the influx of fresh talent was exciting to see and the commitment of the cast was evident in producing a first-night show that was surprisingly more polished than I expected.

The audience were initially met with a sparse, minimalist stage; where excellent use of lighting created a smoky atmosphere and throughout, I was impressed by the slick scene transitions - the technical team should be commended for this. Being faithful to the West End production, the on-stage band were seated on a tall platform and provided a dynamic accompaniment to the proceedings. There were inevitable tuning problems and parts of songs were not in sync with the cast, but I have to compliment the band's subtle balance of sound with the cast (the keyboard vamps and the solo violin parts were particularly noteworthy) - always understated yet dynamic, allowing the principal cast to truly shine.

The lack of an overture and exit music in this musical has always been particularly striking, and the vocal quality tonight was generally excellent. If anything, I would have liked a more explosive opening in Willkommen, as the energy only really hit exciting levels when Sally's cheeky nature was exposed in Don't Tell Mama and the spectacle created by the Emcee and the Kit Kat Klub girls in Two Ladies - one could clearly sense the audience's appreciation! The choreography content was solid and suitably raunchy throughout the show, yet needed a higher degree of execution from the cast and personally, could be even more outlandish to match the outstanding vocals.

The most enjoyable aspect to this production was definitely the progression of an endearing set of romances between the four principal leads - Sally Bowles (Elissa Churchill) and Cliff Bradshaw (Charlie Keable) in Perfectly Marvelous, and Fraulein Schneider (Clementine Medforth) and Herr Schultz (Russell Lamb) in It Couldn't Please Me More (the audience were in fits of laughter at Herr's charming gesture of presenting Fraulein with an 'exotic' pineapple, for the Emcee to then provocatively 'model' it in the song!) I was pleased to see the distinctive differences portrayed through their subtle use of characterisation in expressing the two very different kinds of love, that both inevitably fall apart in Act 2 for two very different sets of reasons.

However, the underpinning theme of the upsurge of Nazi power in Weimar was tastefully done. The juxtaposition created by the Nazi Youth singing Tomorrow Belongs to Me, was inspiring - the patriotic theme was pitch-perfect and had such a pure tone in a sparse, a cappella rendition. The theme's omnipresence created suitably dark overtones by returning at the end of the first act - the modulations at every chorus really epitomised the inescapable reality facing the characters. The heartfelt emotion that this created during Act 2 in Fraulein's passionate speech post-What Would You Do? added depth to the production. As Cliff so succinctly puts: "The party in Berlin is over."

This created the backdrop for my favourite performance of the night by The Emcee (Hugh Train). His characterisation was simply outstanding - I loved his slapstick nature and true showmanship in Act 1, yet I loved the emotional depth portrayed in his character even more during Act 2. One of my favourite songs was actually If You Could See Her, where a great tap routine is created with the gorilla, yet the song's deeper meaning is exposed when the audience can truly wonder 'what makes a Jew so different?' and how we can't help who we fall in love with.

Finally, the stand-out vocal performance of the night has to be Sally's rendition of the title track Cabaret. This was simply an outstanding vocal and demonstrated Sally's decision to live in carefree bliss after her abortion and failure of a romance. It was a real shame that we didn't get to hear her other iconic solo in the original version: Maybe This Time and also the Emcee's I Don't Care Much and Money.

Overall, I was really impressed by how well the cast coped with such an ambitious opening musical to the year. Yes, further polish in the accents department is required and occasionally, facial expressions when cast members are in the background of a group scene lack constancy. However, the directors, Izzy Osborne and Ellie Gauge, have obviously put in a sterling effort and deserve to be commended on a production that will surely iron out its imperfections as the shows continue. DULOG have produced a faithful rendition of Cabaret and is highly recommendable.

agree
disagree

Nathaniel Zacharias

at 08:25 on 13th Nov 2014

0agrees

0disagrees

An evening of entertaining student theatre will greet anyone who has the pleasure to be in the audience for DULOG’s Cabaret. Under the directorship of Izzy Osborne, this iconic musical takes on a symbolic interpretation of the plot as set in pre-Nazi Berlin. The musical’s full potential for raunchiness was tastefully held back to bring the two love stories to the fore without sacrificing any of the potential for laughter. The live music, in combination with the phenomenal vocals and the suitably exaggerated choreography, along with the best lighting I have ever seen in a theatre production, made for a delectable spectacle.

The audience was greeted with the first musical number as the male protagonist was welcomed into Berlin. Here, The Emcee (Hugh Train) had the responsibility of setting the tone of the entire musical by introducing Berlin, the Kit Kat Klub and its girls. The Emcee wraps up the musical with the same number as in the opening scene; having evolved from the comically deranged personality in the exposition where he urges the audience to “leave your troubles outside”, he takes on the qualities of the sinister psychopath, asking in the play’s denouement “where are your troubles now, ah?” Hugh Train’s portrayal of The Emcee was spectacular in all its raciness, coupled with inflaming political undertones, all packaged in a lunatic, wild-eyed manner. That being said, the accent was a bit overcooked and the opening number lacked a certain ownership of the stage.

The characterisation of The Emcee as a comic poltergeist who fades in and out of the stream of life and who constantly observes the play’s events from his perch was a mark of excellent directorship from Izzy Osborne. Good musical directorship (Hatty Eckbery & James Tate) made the accompanying music from the live band present - but not overly so - just as all good bands do. Their rendition of Sally Bowles’s “Cabaret” was a beautifully toned-down number that weaved well into the plot. It must be admitted that this musical has seen some of the best lighting designs (Daniel Gosselin) the audience will ever see, from the asymmetric static shafts of light in the train scene, to the illumination of Sally at her return to the club, and the shadow projection of The Emcee in the closing scene. It was clear that the lighting worked extremely well with the on-stage happenings. The choreography (Johanna Rutherford) was fittingly energetic but it did feel repetitive; perhaps fewer ultra-provocative moves and more varied glamour routines would have reduced the repetitiveness.

Of the six cabaret girls, Jennifer Bullock as Texas and Rebecca Meltzer as Fritzie have to be commended as truly filling their space in their capacity as support cast. Their jaunty movements and pumped steps expressed the care-for-naught attitude embodied in the dancing girls. Clarissa Lonsdale as Fraulein Kost nailed the task of differentiating her character from the other girls and played into her role as tenant to Fraulein Schneider appropriately. Her catty innocence at lying about her nephew, brother and cousin was well executed. Clementine Medforth as Fraulein Schneider brilliantly delivered her poignant lines in a skilfully mastered accent. Stage blocking should be a point for improvement for Fraulein Schneider since in both solos, it was painful to watch such morose emotion contained in a single spot on stage with only movements from the neck. Russell Lamb’s portrayal of Herr Schulz was perfect in its understated hilarity, movements and looks of confusion, and most of all for the approving nods and hand gestures every time his fruits were mentioned.

Charlie Keable’s characterisation of Cliff Bradshaw kept true to the nature of being the uncertain American in search of writer’s inspiration. However, in moments of emotional upheaval, there were reactions that were left either untouched or rushed through. This could be seen in the fight scene, the scene of the announcement of a baby, and the scene of the revelation of the visit to the doctor.

And finally, by all means and measures, the true star of the show, Elissa Churchill as Sally Bowles did a magnificent job acting out her dynamic character in every situation. As the confident, happily intruding, fur coat socialite belting out “Perfectly Marvellous”, and as the accompanying vocal to “Meeskite” singing the harmony, and as the lost, guilt-ridden, returning show girl delicately singing “Cabaret”. Elissa Churchill was both an amazing actress and a euphoric vocalist bringing all her energy to the stage.

All in all, DULOG’s production of the musical Cabaret will make for a laid-back evening of theatre that will still leave you with a lasting impression.

agree
disagree

Audience Avg.

0 votes, 0 comments

Click here for more event information

cast involved

other events on

Version 0.3.7a