by Finn D’Albert.
Jermyn Street Theatre 16b Jermyn Street SW1Y 6SJ To 15 December 2013.
Tue-Sat 9pm Mat Sat & Sun 5pm.
Runs 1hr 15 min No interval.
TICKETS: 0207 287 2875,
Review: William Russell 30 November,
Ladies in Lavender in need of diction.
The world of Berlin during the Weimar years is conjured up in this entertaining revue featuring seven women who lived and loved during the years when decadence ruled and German society cavorted as the storm clouds gathered.
The women on display are Marlene Dietrich, the cross-dresser Claire Waldoff, cabaret star Blandine Ebinger, dancer Anita Berber, performer Valeska Gert and the socialist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg.
The show takes the form of a cabaret with the women in silken camiknickers indulging in lots of rather tame Sapphic dalliance as they perform songs by Brecht, Weill, Spoliansky, Hollaender and Eisler, composers of the time. These songs are fine, but the problem is that John Kander wrote better tunes for Cabaret.
Director Patrick Kennedy has managed to create the necessary smoke-filled atmosphere of the cellar clubs where anything went, men were men and sometimes women, and the women were not always interested in the men. There is also a first rate band tootling away in the corner, and the seven performers do their Sally Bowles turns well enough, although one has always to remember that Sally was a rotten cabaret turn and not a thirties Lisa Minnelli, so their inadequacies are in period.
But it does mean some of the material does not come across as effectively as it might, and with an iconic figure like Dietrich this matters. The other six women can be what the actor makes of them because they are in terms of their image forgotten figures. Dietrich, however, is a legend who still lives.
The girls look lovely, sometimes lovelier than the real article, the thirties underwear is undeniably sexy, and they perform a neat tap routine half-way through the show, ending with a curtain call chorus in praise of lesbian love that rings out gloriously.
But all of them need to improve their diction when singing because words get swallowed up and being indistinct in a small theatre like this is really not good enough.
Valeska Gert: Alyssa Noble.
Marlene Dietrich: Sarah Bradnum.
Claire Waldoff: Gabriella Schmidt.
Blandine Ebinger: Stephanie Hampton.
Rosa Luxemburg: Alma Fournier-Carballo.
Gabriele Tergit: Julia Cugini.
Anita Berber: Samantha Clark.
Director: Patrick Kennedy.
Lighting: Tom Kitney.
Music Director: Peter Mitchell.
Choreographer: Alyssa Noble.