Tales from a Cabaret

The Creative Martyrs, that white-faced Laurel and Hardy of existential cabaret terrorism, are not men to be trifled with, as some rather talkative front-row audience members discovered during this particular performance of Tales from a Cabaret. But then, these particular Martyrs make it clear from the start that, as their audience, we have our own responsibilities arising from being there, and that it’s not for them to censor the stories they are about to tell.

This surprisingly subtle theatrical exploration of Weimar-tinged censorship and persecution is quirky, odd, and not a little bit weird

Famed for their subtly political songs, as ever accompanied by the surprisingly expressive combination of ukulele and cello, this latest example of the Creative Martyrs’ world view is an often-fascinating collection of tales and songs, delivered with a still, deliberate stage presence that’s impossible to ignore. There is something genuinely disconcerting and dehumanising about their way of describing the inhabitants of a city through the hats they wear. And then there’s their extended, audience-participation song on imposed and self-sanctioned surveillance – “You’re On The List” – which is all the more pervasive in our modern technological society.

Their initially separate tales of a sensuous dancer, the “Glittering Raven”, and a daring escapologist – whose fates increasingly differ as we’re told of a free, anarchic cabaret scene being slowly and surely neutered and controlled by the authorities – are succinct, well-paced and worrisome not least because it’s not entirely clear whether they’re talking about 1930s’ Germany or present day Britain. The pair’s lament of the unsafe streets is genuinely moving – albeit balanced by the Creative Martyrs’ insistence that it’s time to fight back, then and now, with elegance. There is surely no stronger image than in their final song: “The Heart is a Revolutionary Cell”, though it’s of course rather scary that it has to be.

This surprisingly subtle theatrical exploration of Weimar-tinged censorship and persecution is quirky, odd, and not a little bit weird. The Creative Martyrs are well worth tracking down, even if you might not sleep so soundly afterwards.

Reviews by Paul Fisher Cockburn

Summerhall

One of Two

★★★★
Scottish Storytelling Centre

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★★★★★
Laughing Horse @ Bar 50

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★★★★
Royal Lyceum Theatre

Mrs Puntila And Her Man Matti

★★

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Performances

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The Blurb

Ladies and gentlemen, we are the Creative Martyrs: ukulele plucking, kazoo humming, cello strumming, storytelling, singing and dancing vaudevillian cabaret duo. Let us manipulate, corrupt, exploit and violate, hold your hand as your debauchery surrenders to fascism... again. All presented for your pleasure in a dark, jovial aesthetic. Ever eager to provoke and if necessary entertain, squeezing that awkward laugh that you know you really shouldn't utter. ‘Darkly satirical Weimar-tinged wit’ ***** (BroadwayBaby.com). Satire, surrealism and song. Tales of love, life and art in a time of oppression. Do join us...

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