Bernie Dieter's Club Kabarett

Jackie McMillan
4th Jun 2024

German cabaret (kabarett) star, Bernie Dieter, is the latest to rustle up a cast of burlesque, cabaret, and circus performers, and bundle them into a cohesive piece of aural and visual entertainment at Sydney Spiegeltent. Running until 28 July, Bernie Dieter's Club Kabarett is a notch above some of the home-grown exemplars that have already been trotted out in the Spiegeltent’s extended Entertainment Quarter residency. For a start, this crew of performers are all confident and slick in their stagecraft. This show is accompanied by a tight three-piece band of live musicians (Joe Southall, Leon Todorovich and Lisa Martin), and Dieter, a Spiegeltent veteran, has plenty of experience performing in-the-round. Dieter sings, though does not reach the heights of Irish chanteuse Camille O’Sullivan, who set the benchmark for singing Spiegeltent sirens here.

For anyone new to cabaret variety shows, all those little flights of stairs down from the central stage mean sitting in the victim seats—the front couple of rows—is at your own peril. However those in the rear should not relax their guard. In the style of our home-grown Meow Meow (Melissa Madden Gray), Dieter is not above climbing over audience members and chairs to get at any bearded, bald, or slightly reticent bastion of masculinity that catches (or desperately tries to avoid) her eye.

Fresh off a cruise ship, Lisa Lottie is very keen to get the party started. She racks up a lot of… er… hoops in a chaotic, licky-bag number that owes a debt to Harley Quinn. Local pole-star, Blue Phoenix (Chris Talbot), does an achingly beautiful number on the acrobatic pole that damn-near steals the show. Reuben Helfenbaum takes hand balancing to new heights but his drunken clowning feels all too familiar. Contortionist Bella Diosa busts out a compact fire performance in the first half, and demonstrates where she’s at 16-months into her ‘hair hang journey’ in the latter part of the evening. And that’s all I’m saying about the second half in order to leave you some element of surprise in an art form where the level of repetition and pastiche is starting to make me feel constant déjà vu.

Season runs 29 May to 28 July at Sydney Spiegeltent with tickets $65-$120 》

Photos by Belinda Rolland.