Dazzling performance from the pop singer turned musical theatre star
BOY, was this a play of two halves – dazzling cabaret-style musical numbers, led by Will Young as flamboyant imp Emcee, interspersed with the disappointingly drab story of penniless singer Sally Bowles and American would-be novelist Clifford Bradshaw.
Young was wonderfully weird and brilliantly funny as the most extreme embodiment of the apparent laisse-faire attitude of 1930s Berlin.
In Two Ladies, he cavorted in a enormous bed with an ever increasing cast of crazy characters who kept popping up from beneath the sheets.
In the showstopper Tomorrow Belongs To Me, he stood aloft as a powerful puppet master pulling the strings of ledenhosen-clad dancers, whose actions became more and more omnious as the first sign of Nazi Germany’s dark influence began to creep into the musical.
And in the final, devastating, scene of the show, he emerged in only a dressing gown – bare of Emcee’s clownish white make-up and ludicrous costumes – to join a row of naked death camp prisoners preparing to step into the showers.
Of course, it is a hard task for the more domestic part of Cabaret’s plot to complete with such well-choreographed, visual displays – but not an impossible one.
Sadly, the colour seemed leached from the rest of the show, which lacked the emotional intensity that would have helped these scenes hold their own.
Siobhan Dillon’s Sally was too pleasant to be convey the character’s complexity. There was no sign of the damage, of the raw vulnerability beneath her live-for-the-moment personality that makes her such a compelling role.
However, Linal Haft made a sweet Herr Schultz and his doomed romance with boarding house landlady Fraulein Schneider (Lyn Paul) was quite touching.
This production of Cabaret is definitely worth seeing for Young alone – but unfortunately that’s just as well.