Review: Cabaret, New Wimbledon Theatre

“Start by admitting from cradle to tomb, it isn’t that long a stay”

Perhaps with a nod to the fact that it isn’t that long since it was in the West End, the touring production of Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret directed by Rufus Norris is just playing a few days at the New Wimbledon Theatre before touring the country. It was a production that I enjoyed when I saw it back at the Savoy and crucially, it has made the one casting change it needed to really improve. Despite her best efforts, Michelle Ryan never felt really at home as Sally Bowles and the introduction of Siobhan Dillon is a clever one as she embodies the simultaneous fragility and strength of this most iconic of characters.

Otherwise, there isn’t too much more to say about it that wasn’t already said in that previous review. Will Young is a genuine revelation as a chilling Emcee, Matt Rawle’s bisexual writer Cliff exudes chemistry all around and the older lovers torn apart by the encroaching regime hits a real chiming note – Lyn Paul taking over from Siân Phillips against Linal Haft. And Valerie Cutko is an inspired casting choice for Fräulein Kost, a character I always end up wanting to see more of.

This production rides on the shameless sleaziness of Javier De Frutos’ choreography and though the company here may be necessarily smaller for a touring show, it still packs the requisite punch in its frankness and its final starkness. It’s not a show for the fainthearted – its most famous numbers may suggest something of the jukebox mentality and distract from what the story is really about. But make no mistake, the rise of Nazism is full square at the heart here and this is fearlessly dark stuff. 

Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 31st August then touring to Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Bradford, Eastbourne, Blackpool, Edinburgh, Dublin, Oxford, Tunbridge Wells, Hull, Wolverhampton and Peterborough. 

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