REVIEW: CABARET @ THE KIT KAT CLUB
📍 The Kit Kat Club (The Playhouse Theatre), Northumberland Avenue, London, WC2N 5DE
🗓 Friday 3rd June 2022
LIFE IS A CABARET!
From the moment you enter the venue, via the stage door rather than the main theatre doors, you are transported back in time to 1931. You are suddenly in the depths of the Kit Kat Club and feel as if you are entering Berlin's seedy underbelly against a backdrop of funky jazz and the dawn of the age of the Nazis.
There's entertainment as soon as you enter the building, provided by what is known as the Prologue Cast, and you're never quite sure what you'll find around the next corner. Photography is strictly forbidden from the moment you enter which ensures that you really can immerse yourself in the experience, which then isn't ruined for future theatre goers.
The auditorium itself has been transformed into a convincing replica of a 1920's nightclub and as you enter there is continuing entertainment as well as waiters which really makes you forget that you're at the theatre.
From the moment Fra Fee appears as Emcee singing Willkommen, you know you're in for something special. Fee really makes this character his own and you can tell he's having a ball doing it. It is like the role had been written just for him and he really was something to behold.
Amy Lennox and Christopher Tendai (understudy) brought the central characters of Sally Bowles and Clifford Bradshaw to life. The relationship between the two was beautifully played out and Lennox proved that you don't just need to belt out a song at the top of your voice to deliver a stunning vocal performance. You really felt every word of Maybe This Time and I found a new and different appreciation for the song.
If you think you know the story of Cabaret because you've seen the 1972 movie, then think again! Of course there are similarities but characters who have quite substantial roles in the movie either have very small roles in the stage version or are missing completely! Similarly, there are characters that have a much bigger presence in the stage musical.
One of these characters was the landlady, Fraulein Schneider, who was brought gracefully to life by Vivien Parry. The relationship that develops between her and Elliot Levey's Herr Schultz was touching and at times painful to watch as you really felt their difficulties through their story arc
Stewart Clarke gave a convincing performance as Ernst Ludwig, who starts off very likeable, but a darker side comes to the foreground which is not unexpected, but still shocking.
The supporting cast which includes André Refig, Matthew Gent, Anna-Jane Casey, Daniel Perry, Sally Frith and Theo Maddix are equally as important to the production as the main characters, bringing the fabulous craziness of the Kit Kat Club to life wonderfully.
Tom Scutt's scenic and costume designs are fantastic and so well thought out. You look around in awe as soon as you enter the auditorium.
Directed by Rebecca Frecknall, the production comes together with stunning choreography by Julia Cheng and superb lighting designed by Isabella Byrd.
There were a couple of times throughout the production where I felt that it was a bit flat, but it usually brought itself back quite quickly. Although I understood the poignancy of seeing characters such as Emcee slowly become Nazified (is that a word?), I did feel that it made the end of the production quite boring and compared to the fun, bright and charismatic feeling throughout all of the nightclub scenes, it was a bit of a let down in my humble opinion.
That being said, I would definitely see it again and like the idea of sitting in the circle seats and looking down on the production from above. I think this would give an interesting view and would be a completely different experience. Also, as the seats in the stalls are quite expensive (I was very lucky to have received tickets as an anniversary gift), the cheaper circle seats make this production more accessible to everyone.
Fra Fee is definitely the stand out performer in this piece for me and it will be interesting to see him in future productions as I'm sure he's going to be a West End star for many years to come.
Cabaret is currently booking until 19/11/22 and tickets can be purchased via the official website www.atgtickets.com or via the TodayTix app, where you can enter the lottery for £25 tickets.
Please note: all views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence.