Monday 8th August, 19.00
Darkchat reviewers occasionally venture into the Edinburgh International Festival, most recently for the
unforgettable Speed of Light in 2012. This year, after hearing Barry Humphries publicising his Weimar
Cabaret show on the radio, Darkchat David and Anne decided to go along.
The Australian comedian was the audience's expert guide to the music - some of which is now little
known and seldom performed - explaining that as a teenager he found a suitcase of sheet music from
the period in a Melbourne bookshop, leading to a lifelong love of the music and art of the Weimar Republic
and an interest in the stories of the composers and artists whose lives were changed forever by the rise
The two performances were sold out and our host set the tone at the start by explaining to the rather
mature audience that the few empty seats should be thought of as 'red velvet tombstones' having been
purchased well in advance by those no longer able to attend the show...
The music was performed by the splendid Australian Chamber Orchestra, led by Richard Tognetti on violin,
with vocals by the astonishingly accomplished and costumed Meow Meow, supported by Satu Vanska - who also played violin - and by Barry Humphries.
The first half of the concert featured some modernist orchestral pieces incorporating jazz elements which, as Mr Humphries commented, could sound “almost a little curdled” when heard by a twenty-first century audience but which were all extremely evocative of their time and place.
After the interval, the focus was on cabaret including the delightful duet 'Mousie' performed by Miaow Miaow and Barry Humphries, ‘Sonata Erotica' sung, if that is the correct term, by Meow Meow (essentially a much earlier version of the diner scene from When Harry Met Sally) and 'Wenn Die Beste Freundin' a beautifully staged duet by Miaow Miaow and Satu Vanska.
The performers' love of the music was infectious and made for an unforgettable and joyous celebration of the era, whilst the closing pieces 'To the Little Radio' and 'The Ruins of Berlin' reminded us what fate had in store for the people who wrote, played and loved this music
Barry Humphries Weimar Cabaret was performed as part of the Edinburgh International Festival