Will Young is back onstage in the Grand Theatre’s Cabaret

Will Young is back onstage in the Grand Theatre’s Cabaret

Cabaret is a difficult show to get right, especially now, when it seems so eerily prescient. The balance between subversive enough to press the point and tame enough for the regular theatre-goer is fraught, the line between satirising and trivialising the enemy difficult to parse. For the most part, this bombastic and glittery interpretation hit all the right notes, even if sometimes it came at the expense of the subtle moments that make Cabaret so chilling.

Though the choreography’s steady motif building and hard contemporary edge was hard to fault, at times it seemed to be utilised for all the wrong reasons; namely to swaddle ingenue Louise Redknapp in a blanket of spectacle should she falter. Such measures proved to be unnecessary, Louise was a faultlessly textbook (if not overly memorable) Sally Bowles, whose astonishing pipes carried her breezily through the few moments where her acting inexperience showed.

As the other celebrity draw of the tour, Will Young delivered a surprisingly layered portrayal of the famed Emcee, with camp sauciness giving way to sheer mania and heartbreaking humanity as the show went on. Though in places he lacked the eerie Commedia dell’arte caricature of Joel Grey or the unapologetic menace of Alan Cumming, his measured approach was the perfect homage to both, and the reverence with which he approached the part shone through.

Image: York Press

 

In short, there were moments when the added scale really did add to the impact, the literal puppeteering of the volt during a vicious rendition of ‘Tomorrow Belongs To Me’ was utterly nightmarish for example, and the quick change reveal of If You Could See Her certainly had the desired effect on the audience. However, the message of the show came through best in those less obvious, quieter moments wherein the crowd was forced to comprehend the unglamorous reality of the characters, and those moments were sometimes traded off in favour of selling the show as a fun, over-the-top, romp.

Cabaret is a difficult show to get right, especially now, when it seems so eerily prescient. The balance between subversive enough to press the point and tame emessage of the show came through best in those less obvious, quieter moments wherein the crowd was forced to comprehend the unglamorous reality of the characters, and those moments were sometimes traded off in favour of selling the show as a fun, over-the-top, romp.

Rhiannon-Skye Boden

(Image courtesy of Pamela Raith Photography)