Cabaret Festival – Mark Nadler – 5K

Mark Nadler has become somewhat of a staple of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival – this his 5th season – but it is doubtful that any of his previous shows would match this, his ‘I’m A Stranger Here Myself’ offering, for its emotional power.

The Weimar Republic of the ‘tween wars period was no great place to be for outsiders and misfits, especially for Jews and gays but also for those whose creed was (as Nadler kept reciting) ‘I don’t know where I belong. I belong to myself, all alone.’

From that environment, in a world generally trying hard but ultimately unsuccessfully to carve out a new order after the horrors and shocks of WWI, song writers formed unique but often only fleeting relationships and took on remarkable risks with their craft and lives.

After seeming somewhat flustered initially by his flamboyant arrival, Nadler soon settled into stride mixing not only his research of the period but also threads of his own personal experience as a young performer in the songs he chose for us. The works of Bertolt Brecht, Charles Aznavour and Mischa Spoliansky’s gay-rights anthem Lavender Nights featured along with a rollicking Bill’s Bar in Bilbao.

But while there were moments of outrageous showmanship for which Nadler is much enjoyed, as the hour went on an emotional intensity grew and grew, climaxing in his extraordinary and chilling finale.

We should never judge a book by its cover and if any show may come to define the 2012 Cabaret Festival, with its darker themes, then Nadler has delivered it. LIke those who stuck their necks out in the period under the spotlight, Nadler delivers a masterful and brave performance.

Kryztoff Rating  5K

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