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This week's offering at His Majesty's Theatre offers an emotional trajectory not often found in musical theatre.


By Kirsty Brown


It's one of those shows which has rightfully earned its place in the hearts of theatre-goers as a cult classic, and this week Aberdeen audiences have the opportunity to enjoy everything that makes Cabaret stand out from the crowds.

Set in liberal 1930s Berlin, Cabaret follows the lives of those staying in Fraulein Schneider's rented accommodation – aspiring American novelist Cliff Bradshaw (Charles Hagerty), struggling cabaret performer Sally Bowles (Kara Lily Hayworth), prostitute Fraulein Kost (Basienka Blake), Jewish greengrocer Herr Schultz (James Paterson) and of course Fraulein Schneider (Anita Harris) herself.

Punctuated with cabaret performances led by Emcee (John Partridge), the storyline documents the deterioration of relationships and liberty caused by Hitler's uprising.

Cabaret is in Aberdeen this week. Picture: The Other Richard
Cabaret is in Aberdeen this week. Picture: The Other Richard

There are few musicals which will open on a high and leave the audience aghast at the horrors of the world, and with Armistice still fresh in everybody's minds the story took on a much more heartbreaking image with the audience.

While the first half largely keeps things light and fun with racy and raucous scandal, the downward spiral is really felt in the second half with the closing scene an unexpectedly poignant moment.

The alternating cabaret scenes limit the fluidity and continuity of the story but also acted well as a distraction from what was happening (a Nazi uprising) in 'the real world', much like the cabaret scene would have been in 1930s Berlin.

The variation in German and non-German characters offers an interesting insight into pre-war perceptions of the Nazis and most strikingly how people just shrugged off their questionable behaviour believing it would just blow over, which of course we all now know was not the case.

Cabaret is in Aberdeen this week. Picture: The Other Richard
Cabaret is in Aberdeen this week. Picture: The Other Richard

Cabaret boasts all the markers of a traditional and classic musical, and yet manages to stand out as being unlike any other musical from its era.

Unfortunately it was often difficult to make out what Emcee, who was effectively a narrator, was singing however such was the nature of his character that you didn't really need to be able to hear the words to get the feel of the current situation.

The songs, which include the popular Perfectly Marvellous and the eponymous Cabaret, were all performed beautifully and really heightened the emotions in the room.

The team of cabaret performers also merit a mention for their incredible control and precision demonstrated through the performances which were exhilarating, moving and unnerving.

While this may not be a feel-good extravaganza it is a beautiful and powerful piece of theatre which successfully transports its audiences to another world far removed from the dreary winter skies of 21st century Aberdeen and rightfully earned the standing ovation which the audience gave it.

Cabaret is in Aberdeen until Saturday, November 16, and for more information and tickets you can visit Aberdeen Performing Arts' Box Office by popping into His Majesty's Theatre, visiting: www.aberdeenperformingart.com or calling: 01224 641 122.



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