A magical evening of cabaret in Dulwich

Review by David Munro

Cabaret time at Dulwich - Ian Mowat presents Sunday Evening Cabaret at the Picture Gallery Dulwich with Stefan Bednarczyk - Liza Sadovy - Walter van Dyk

DO DO DO Dulwich. There is a season of cabaret there at the Linbury Room at the Dulwich Picture Gallery which, if last Sunday (September 8) is anything to go by, is probably the best evening's entertainment to be had in town.

On that occasion Stefan Bednarczyk 'did' Flanders and Swann for the first half of the evening and then accompanied Liza Sadovy and Walter van Dyk in a session of Kurt Weill.

If I say the whole evening was magical, it is because it was.

For someone whose theatre-going started with Anna Neagle as Peter Pan and who felt that after that theatre had nothing to offer him - well this evening was a revelation. Stefan (if I may call him that - my computer speller goes into overdrive with his surname) made me realise for the first time what witty and professional writers Flanders and Swann were.

Having sat through interminable evenings of them selling their wares at the Fortune and, latterly, the Haymarket Theatre and slept comfortably, I never appreciated what their theatrical acumen was. It took sitting through Stefan and staying enjoyably awake to do that.

He makes their words sparkle as though they were written by Coward or Porter. He sets his stall out as a professional should and sells the numbers immaculately each one coming over new and crisp.

Listening to the records after hearing his interpretations makes one wonder how he does it, but he does, and I for one am grateful for being able to appreciate numbers as first rate when I had written them off as far from that - Thank you Stefan and I hope that any one who reads this will beat a path to the next performance you give. --- Watch this space.

The evening didn't end there. After a pleasant break in the gardens of the gallery, the second half of the event took place.

I love Kurt Weill and I have suffered (as those who have seen my review of The Threepenny Opera at Hammersmith will have realised) the tortures of the dammed with ill-considered and second-rate performances of his works, and this includes Vanessa Redgrave and Bill Owen.

Suddenly I heard his work performed as I imagine he must have wanted it performed. From the moment Walter van Dyk started from the back of the stalls to sing the opening of The Threepenny Opera, I felt a frisson which lasted to the end of the evening.

Weill came alive. It is invidious to mention the particular numbers and frankly I sat back and enjoyed them so much I didn't take a note of them.

I do, however, remember Liza Sadovy's Surabaya Johnny (Lotte Lenya heraus), her My Ship which surpassed all other renditions, including Gertrude Lawrence, Anne Sothern, Rise Stevens, Maria Friedman (especially) et al and the duet with Walter van Dyk of the often forgotten number from Street Scene, Moon-faced and starry-eyed, which shows Weill in the happy mood so may people forget he was capable of showing.

I was sorry they only did one number from One Touch of Venus but, again, Liza Sadovy's delightful production number of That's himshowed that Weill was a great tunesmith.

Walter van Dyk proved himself as a sympathetic and intelligent interpreter of what are often insurmountable songs in the Weill canon.

His version of Lonely House made one wonder why he wasn't offered the role of Sam in the last production of Street Scene.

It is always sad to review a one-off event, as one cannot persuade you to go and enjoy what one has enjoyed so much. I hope, however, you will note the names of these three great performers and if they appear in your neighbourhood, you will go and see them.

If you don't have a happy evening, write and complain to me. I might offer to refund your price of admission, except that I feel that you won't want to write and wouldn't want it back.

Click here for Paul Nelson's view of Crozier Hughes...
Alternatively, follow the links above to find out what's coming up at Dulwich...