Our main reason for going to London last weekend was to see Cabaret, currently starring Jake Shears and Rebecca Lucy Taylor.

I’ve seen the movie version several times and love it, but obviously that had changes from the original show, and it seemed likely that over the years each run had its own changes as well, so it seemed probable I would like it but also tried to not go in with the movie too much in mind.

Overall it was very good, photography is prohibited in the venue, to the point where they give you a sticker to cover your phoen camera. Presumably this is partly for the drama of it but also to enhance the immersive atmosphere they’re trying to create, the concept being that you are at the Kit Kat Club itself. The actual implementation was only partially successful to my mind. The first impression was great, narrow and dark with a speakeasy vibe and a then suddenly a single dancer behind a beaded curtain. But the space being what it was crowd flow was quite compromised in favour of the overall conceit, meaning that the next stretch was mostly just boring queuing without clarity as to whether you were even going the right way.

A circular stage meant there were no bad seats really although the acoustics suffered a bit during the quieter bits, and the staging was overall excellent, some really wonderful transitional moments and reveals. The costuming veered further into a dark circus aesthetic than I prefer, but that’s personal taste and I can’t really fault either the appropriateness or the execution there.

Shears was sinister as ther MC, but the standout was Taylor, who gave it her absolute all and had me weeping in the closing number. I had gone in knowing she could sing, having enjoyed her immensely on Taskmaster, but not sure if someone with such a modern sensibility could pull of Sally Bowles. I shouldn’t have worried, she played the bravado and vulnerability beautifully. I would gladly see perform again in this or anything else really, I’m very interested in seeing how much of this performance is her bringing her own mannerisms in and how much is specific to the role. Either way she was fantastic.

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