Thirties Berlin recreated

2008-08-19 00:00

Cabaret was immortalised in 1972 by the film version directed by Bob Fosse. It won eight Oscars that year, two of which went to Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey for their portrayals of Sally Bowles and the Emcee, respectively. Inevitably, any subsequent production is compared to the film, as the roles of the Emcee and Sally Bowles have to bear comparison with the iconic performances of Minnelli and Grey.

The strength of this production also lies in the production design and direction which has to recreate the thirties ambience of Berlin’s nightclubs. Based on the world described by Christopher Isherwood in his Berlin Stories, the milieu is the Weimar Republic, under a government that encouraged sexual indulgence of all kinds. Peter Mitchell’s expert direction brings this world vividly to life. The set is dominated by the false proscenium arch which houses the Kit Kat Club’s 10-piece orchestra and forms the backdrop of the play. Simple set details serve to recreate Frau Schneider’s (Diana Wilson) boarding house, and a railway carriage, and so on. But it is in the performances of the actors and singers and their costumes that Mitchell has created the sleazy world of the Kit Kat Club and early Nazi Germany Berlin. Every one of the chorus girls and boys, even when they are changing sets in their knickers and camisoles, embodies the mood of the play. It is in this way that Mitchell skilfully recreates the atmosphere of a world in flux.

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