Berlin Cabaret

Hitler. He was a wrong ‘un, and no mistake. So what to make of a cabaret full of goose-stepping, Nazi salutes and a leggy swastika on the flyer?

Is it a history lesson, or entertainment?

Things start well enough, with a warm wilkommen from the cabaret girls as the audience find their seats and chit-chat with those already settled in for the show. There are frilly basques aplenty and the stage is bookended by two boys with clown-white faces wearing tight tops that suggest they will be as much the eye-candy as the buxom ladies showing us into the auditorium. The atmosphere is very much the hedonistic Kit Kat club of Christopher Isherwood’s 1930s Berlin. A recreation of the Weimar Republic’s taste for sexual freedom. It’s Liza Minnelli’s Cabaret with all the Disney removed.

The doors are closed and our MC appears. He’s the gender-bending ringmaster you’d expect for these kind of proceedings. He toys with the audience to get everyone in the mood. An introductory song and dance routine is then followed by a sketch featuring the aforementioned bookend boys, which would appear to be a jibe at Hitler. The audience don’t really get it (if it was supposed to be funny), but we move on anyway and out comes one of the cabaret girls to kick off one of the running-themes of the evening involving a perverted doctor checking up on the girls’ sexual habits. This gives way to a song and then another Hitler sketch with the boys and so on.

Not having first-hand experience of 1930s Berlin, and my knowledge of the era mostly coming from Isherwood’s writings of the period, I can’t be completely sure whether what was being presented was a faithful recreation of Weimar culture cabaret. Potentially it was, but the anti-Semitism, celebration of pedophilia and embracing of all things Nazi sailed dangerously close to crossing the line between condemn and condone. In one number, one of the cabaret girls dons a shtreimel and sidelocks while the ensemble sing Blame The Jews to a Nazi salute. I was desperately looking for the sarcasm or ironic twist that would assuage my fears that they were being frighteningly sincere about this material, but I couldn’t find it.

As I say, this may have simply been an attempt to stage a faithful recreation of what actually was happening in Berlin in those pre-war years. It’s perfectly understandable that a nation who had been gobbling up the Nazi propaganda for a decade were ok with the social mores that had been drummed into them. But this is a late-night slot at the Fringe where you’re probably expecting more kick line and bustiere from your cabaret than fascism from the Third Reich.

I still don’t know what to make of Berlin Cabaret. On one hand I applaud their efforts to bring that era back to life – and probably quite accurately; but I do wonder whether the audience know what they’re in for. Is it a history lesson, or entertainment?

Reviews by Pete Shaw

Greenwich Theatre

The Queen of Hearts

★★★★★

Good Grief

★★★★
The Phoenix Arts Club Facebook Live Page

Live From The Phoenix Flat

★★★★★
Crescent - The Vaults

Over My Dad's Body

★★★★
Greenwich Theatre

Sleeping Beauty

★★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

As our emcee takes you on a journey of decadence and ignorance, let the cabaret girls entertain you in our slice of 1930s Berlin. Featuring a live band, dancing girls, original and popular songs straight from Weimar Germany.

Most Popular See More

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets