City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

1933: Eine Nacht im Kabarett, Summerhall, Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 26 January 2014

Tight Laced Kabarett
Show Details
Tightlaced Theatre and Sporadic Music
Susanna Mulvihill (writer and director), Fiona Thom (assistant director), Fiona Thom, Susanna Mulvihill and Bev Wright (original music), Ingrida Dornbrook (choreographer)
Bev Knight (Simone), Danielle Farrow (Anke), Hazel DuBourdieu (Marieke), Kirsty Eila McIntyre (Birgit), Robert Howat (William), Andy Corelli (Captain Vochner), William Mitchell (Dieter), David McFarlane and Calum MacAskill (Ratlings), Michael Wiedenhof and Susanna Mulvihill (Les Chiens), Lorna McCulloch, Fiona Campbell and Ingrida Dornbrook (guest dancers)
Running time: 

Tightlaced steps loosely round a pivotal piece of history. Susanna Mulvihill has again undertaken an ambitious piece of work with her latest production, 1933: Eine Nacht im Kabarett.

It is 30th January 1933 in Berlin, just four years from the 1929 Wall Street crash. Hitler’s newly appointed chancellorship is being celebrated with his private army of Brown Shirts marching outside through the streets. We are in a seedy night club run by Anke (Danielle Farrow) in brisk commandant style and with the subversive Simone (Bev Wright) as its sassy mistress of ceremonies. The mood of the time is told through the voices of cabaret guests, artistes and staff over the evening.

The Dissection Room at Summerhall is set out cabaret style, with small tables and chairs, the stage at the front and a bar at the side from where tight braided maids and the odd white faced man in tiny shorts serve drinks.

It is in this layout that much of the problem lies in this admirable production. The effort to give the various points of view of the time means much neck craning on the part of the audience. Often the voices of cast members in the audience are lost against the sounds of the plonky piano and at times there too much happening on stage and beyond that the audience is struggling to know where to look. The significant characters seated at the side of the stage would have solved this.

Maybe the shambolic air is a deliberate ploy but the piece was slow to engage in spite of subversive and cheeky tactics used by the vivacious Bev Wright as Simone.

The pace picked up but some of the cabaret acts, like the Great Cesari’s mind-reading were just too long, though Calum MacAskill who played that role shows promise as a natural clown.

The role of the burlesque dancer was played on Saturday 25th by Fifi Féline, one of the three professional burlesque dancers who share the part over the run. She went from suited and trilbyed to sussied and tasselled with great burlesque style. (The poor man who left for the toilet before she came on, returning just at the tail end, as it were, must have been kicking himself!) Top marks to Tightlaced for employing professionals in this highly specialised field.

Then there is the thorny issue of dialect that would not have been around had it not been for the presence of the American character, William (Robert Howat). Were they speaking English for him? Was he speaking German for them? A stronger German pronunciation for the peppering of German words could have helped here where authenticity is otherwise to the fore.

Andy Corelli who played Captain Vochner is a naturally authoritative figure but even he was largely lost in the crowd. Corelli gives a commanding speech on stage; a more subtly prominent presence from him throughout would have added the necessary menace.

As ever Tightlaced is sensitive in the costume department. (Sorry, no specific credit). From the bowler hatted musicians; the camp leather shorts and suspenders of the Ratlings; Birgit (Kirsty Eila McIntyre) beautiful in lace and furs to the multi-talented Hazel DuBourdieu in her cabaret roles as Marieke in gorgeous navy velvet fringed dress and lace up taps or high heeled tango shoes. Tightlaced is sartorially sound.

There is a statue in Berlin that shows a headless striding figure. Its black right arm is giving a Nazi salute; its left black booted foot is at the end of a leg held at right angles like a part of the swastika. Its left white arm is clenched in a fist of solidarity and defiance, its naked right leg stiffly stretched out like a vulnerable goose step. This dichotomous message is echoed in the show with a defiant Communist Hammer and Sickle hanging on the bannister as Simone appears at the end as a Hitler drag act in a red dress yet giving the Nazi salute.

The events portrayed took place just 81 years ago at the start of the rise of the Third Reich. This is a brave attempt to show the mood of the time and its ensuing dangers. Today, immigration and the threat of ‘the other’ are still used in political scaremongering. Ironically, the indigenous German population is shrinking and is now reliant on immigrants to sustain their economy. This salutary tale can never be told too often.

Show times

Til 2 Feb, 7.30pm



Age recommend 14+