Halbwelt Kultur - Jermyn Street Theatre (Review)
Review by Shanna Schreuder
THE intimate Jermyn Theatre is the perfect venue for the sexually-charged musical Halbwelt Kultur.
Set in the Weimar Republic, this naughty piece is based on the lives of seven influential women who each represent an aspect of the fragile era that resulted in World War II.
Although written in 2012, Halbwelt Kultur successfully evokes the decadence of the underground club scene in Berlin during the ‘20s and ‘30s by introducing the audience to the film star Marlene Dietrich (Sarah Bradnum), the infamous cross-dresser Claire Waldoff (Gabriella Schmidt), the cabaret legend Blandine Ebinger (Stephanie Hampton), dancer and performance artist Anita Berber (Samantha Clark), socialist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg (Alma Fournier-Carballo), writer and journalist Gabriele Tergit (Julia Cugini) and avant-garde performer Valeska Gert (Alyssa Noble) through music and dance.
The show is mainly made up of tunes by legendary composers Friendrich Hollaender, Mischa Spoliansky, Hanns Eisler and Bertolt Brecht, with some additional numbers by Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller and Kurt Weill to add to the jazz vibe.
From Hollaender’s smooth Falling In Love Again to Eisler and Brecht’s upbeat There’s Nothing Quite Like Money to Spoliansky’s kinky When The Special Girlfriend, the songs form a battle cry against the rise of Nazism as they bring to life the over-indulgence and sexual freedom that defined the sub-culture at the time.
Although the current production may be helped by the basement design of the theatre, it’s the outstanding all-female cast, the seamless direction by Patrick Kennedy and rich musical direction by Peter Mitchell that make this musical cabaret snap, crackle and pop.
Guaranteed excitement from start to finish, it’ll definitely put you in the right mood for the evening.