Review by Carly Fisher
Spectacular…doesn’t even quite cover it! Bernie Dieter’s Club Kabaret is the 5 Star sell out the world over and Aussies just cannot seem to get enough of this show with it having played 2 sold out Sydney seasons in 2022 alone and an extended Melbourne run that looks like it too is going to be a challenge to snag a ticket.
So before you read any further, my advice is to quickly go buy a ticket…then come back to read why.
Set in the glorious travelling Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent that has taken residence in the Queen Victoria Market car park for the duration of Melbourne Fringe, this cabaret pulls out all the stops with fabulous singing, perfectly raunchy banter, aerialists, pyrotechnicians, pole performers, hula hoopers and a hilariously witty Drag performance! For 100 minutes you are overwhelmed with entertainment, each performer continuing to raise the stakes and push the boundaries of not just what can be done on a very small stage, but also of what can be done with their incredibly flexible bodies!
The show is an homage to the Weimar-punk days and German born Bernie is our consummate Emcee. Bernie has the audience in the palm of her hand from the moment her first stiletto hits the stage…and though she knows it, she continues, for 100 minutes, to work her butt off to ensure that you have the perfect night at her Kabaret!
The audience interaction is excellent…maybe those who were picked on for inclusion would disagree but to an innocent bystander like myself, the engagement of men from around the front of the stage was fantastic, even if her return journey to the stage in the arms of these men almost needed an ambulance on standby!
Don’t let the carpark location fool you - there is nothing minimal about this production and it is clear to see why Australian festivals are keen to promote this as the ‘big show’ of the fest! Dazzling with striking but clever lighting that serves to add colour, flare but also an illusion of space, the Spiegeltent cases a labyrinth of creativity from the band, the lighting designers and technicians, and the army of people it takes to get a show like this up, running and safe every night.
What the show achieves in perfect measure is a balance between comedy, marvel, sex appeal, cirque, raunch, campness and just great fun. The clever interweaving of each of these qualities enriches the show and allows you, as an audience, to maintain that element of surprise consistently - a feature critical to the great success of old German cabarets and entertainment clubs.
One of my favourite acts of the night was Myra Dubois - a Yorkshire drag queen who delivered a perfect balance of insult to humour and some of the best one-liners of the show…particularly at the expense of ex-PM Liz Truss. I was very much hoping the second act would feature a bit more from the spicy comic but sadly, it’s just the one set for this performer…so now that you know that, enjoy it whilst it lasts!
The Two Fathoms - Jack Dawson and Reed Kelly - were exceptionally impressive and with a boy-like charm, so sweet to watch. Their flexibility seemed to know no end and it is always rewarding watching a partnership like this at work because of the immense amount of trust that you know it must take to achieve what they pull off together.
Despite all the glitz (think spiked stilettos, many a bedazzled jumpsuit, and an enormous amount of glitter), Bernie is very keen to ensure that some key messages leave the Spiegeltent with you - namely, a reminder that nowadays, we are all so disconnected, so separated and that getting back together is vital. Bernie continues by reminding us that those this is all smoke and mirrors and that beneath it all we are all real people seeking to connect and to share. And finally, not everything is to be shared…no one wants unsolicited dick pics people! (my gosh, what a hilarious song!)
This show may cost the same as 4 or 5 other fringe shows combined but you will quickly see why and I am confident that you’ll be happy you spent it! It’s impossible not to be entertained when the quality of the performances is so high, the night has an air of ‘naughty’ to it but is, altogether, just good fun and the message is pure. I can’t wait to see where Bernie is next…I’ll be back in that Spiegeltent in an instant!
Image Credit: Ruth Schwarzenholz