[CABARET/Theatre ~ WORLD PREMIERE ~ SA]
Black Box Theatre @ Adelaide Botanical Garden, Sat 27 Feb.
Black Box Theatre provides an ideal setting for a smoky nightclub cabaret. The scene is Die Katakombes, an actual cabaret venue in Berlin run by German cabaret artist and writer Werner Finck between 1929 and 1935. While the Nazis were escalating their power on the nation cabaret was one outlet, albeit risky, for artists to comment on what was happening.
Joanne Hartstone as Iris London, top of the bill at Die Katakombes, gives a solo tour de force performance. Hartstone draws on all of her theatrical experience to swing through an impressive range of moods and emotions, coquettish one moment, darkly despairing the next.
This show is brilliantly written, and the production by Tom Kitney astutely gives us a history lesson, with voice-overs and images projected on screen, and with all of the significant events signalling Hitler’s rise to power presented in text using the curtain as a screen between songs. But the main event is Hartstone telling the story in song.
The songs are a fascinating mix of old and new. The show begins with Theme From Love Story, of all things, but with very different words! “Chuck Out The Men” written by Friedrich Hollaender in 1926 sounds like a witty modern feminist statement. Paint It Black is given a rather sinister edge, while who knew that Chris Isaac’s Wicked Game could be turned into a lament about loving Hitler?
A show-stopping climax comes in the second last song when an older, sadder Iris London bids us farewell.
A standing ovation felt appropriate at this point.
The final song Propellerheads’ History Repeating adds the obvious punchline that it could all happen again, with footage of Donald Trump dancing awkwardly on screen. Although this was clearly a takeaway from the show it did not feel that this message was excessively heavy-handed. But in the best theatrical tradition, this show gives us plenty to enjoy, and plenty to think about!
The Reichstag Is Burning continues at Black Box Theatre @ Adelaide Botanical Garden from 8.20pm until Sun 14 Mar. Also available LIVE at Watch From Home at 8.20pm until Sun 14 Mar.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 or adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.