Review: Cabaret at the Wolverhampton Grand

Image features cast from a previous touring production of Cabaret

Book: Joe Masteroff

Music: John Kander

Lyrics: Fred Ebb

Director: Rufus Norris

This Bill Kenwright tour of Cabaret has only just started but already this production is a slick, harrowing production that packs a punch and leads to moments where you could cut the tension in the auditorium with a knife.

John Partridge entices you into this apparent carefree world where the girls, boys and orchestra are all beautiful. Partridge is at one on the stage but also is able to completely switch the role of Emcee into something much darker and sinister. He floods the stage with his fear as the external forces of the Nazi regime start to overshadow the relaxed nature of the Kit Kat Club, where the bright lights distract people from what’s going on around them.

This is all part of Rufas Norris’s punchy direction. The staccato, sexy and seductive numbers make way to the sting in the tale at the end of Act One, where the rise of Nazi Germany is suddenly apparent. This only grows stronger through the second act, up until the shocking, uneasy final moments that will stay with you as you leave cold in fear and full of emotion. The eerie soundscape by Dan Sampson helps to keep you on edge and builds the tension up until, and during these moments, right until the final applause.

Joe Masteroff’s book emphasises how this rising horror affects a host of character, who all interlink with each other. Kara Lily Hayworth is brilliant as Sally Bowles. Hayworth portrays a young woman with a huge sense of freedom, completely ignorant to the world around her. Her rendition of Maybe This Time shows the inside of the character that is conflicted about what sort of life she wants to lead and whether it’s time to slow things down.

On the opposite scale, you have Anita Harris as Fraulein Schneider. Harris shows the mature well experienced Fraulein, who after years of caring for herself, is not ignorant to the world that surrounds her and the sacrifices that she needs to make to carry on. It’s therefore heartbreaking to see what Fraulein has to lose in order to remain strong.

Harris has a sincere and really lovely connection with James Paterson as Herr Schultz. Paterson portrays an optimistic and sweet, fruit stall owner who is one of the characters that is subject to the hateful regime that clouds above the production.  You can really connect with the tragic circumstances that affect him , while despite everything, continues to show the love he still has for Germany.

Charles Hagerty plays Cliff Bradshaw, a mature writer who sometimes just needs to cut loose and restrain himself less. In a way, you never truly know what Cliff wants from life, but what you can see is the conflict Hagerty goes through as the character, to try and find out.

A mention also to Jospeph Dockree who plays Bobby. While the character may be of little voice, there’s not a moment he’s on stage where you can’t see the true desire, in his mind, to find happiness, which makes moments in act two truly heart rendering.

This outstanding piece comes together tightly to provoke thought and brings shivers down your spine. What is particularly distressing is how Rufus Norris exposes that a lot of the themes this production explores echo throughout the world today. There are some parts that are uncomfortable to watch, but it’s that raw edginess that makes the piece all the more engaging and honest. The cast executes the jaw dropping choreography by Javier De Frutos with ease, which punctuates the lives of those people who are affected by the dark and horrific events of the past, with the happy go lucky atmosphere of Berlin’s nightlife; where the fresh faced youth are full of confidence and optimism.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

5money*A complimentary ticket was given in exchange for this review. This value for money rating is based on the ticket price value of £42.50 + £3 Booking Fee. For more info on this value for money rating please visit here: Introducing a new kind of rating

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