By: Brian Butler
Date: November 23, 2020
One of my 2019 highlights was interviewing the international cabaret star Ute Lemper and then just before lockdown this year seeing her show at the Old Market, Hove.
It was a night of nights. Now she and queer actor Alan Cumming have co-produced a re-imagining of her stunning tribute to the legend that is Marlene Dietrich.
Filmed in the actor’s glitzy, risqué looking Club Cumming , Ute recreates a real-life incident when as a young performer she was telephoned by the octogenarian recluse who had seen newspaper reports calling Ute “ the new Marlene “
Ute with her band of musicians holds our attention from beginning to end, and morphs magically from the 20-something bubbly nervous actor/singer to the fiery, slightly deranged chanteuse with her slurred husky speech and deeply hooded eyes
It’s an absolute tour de force, made more so in this presentation because the close-ups, fades, editing and background setting in the club give a gripping level of intimacy – we believe we are in the club or Dietrich’s lonely Paris apartment.
The songs work better in this club setting, and Ute has added a gentleman admirer who she can play some of the songs off , not missing a seductive, humorous trick. She slinks her way round the club, lingering often at the bar – this works really well for One For My Baby , the Sinatra hit but also for the Western See What The Boys In The Backroom Will Have.
Ute’s great skill is to make Marlene’s utterances seem absolutely spontaneous and her rambling mind is a crucial part of the performance .
In the final analysis, you’ll remember this outstanding piece of cabaret/theatre for the songs – Where Have All The Flowers Gone, Blowing In The Wind, Lili Marlene and of course the haunting Falling In Love Again.
Brava Lemper. I hear a tv deal is in the wind to bring this to a more permanent audience – I for one can’t wait.
The show is available to buy on line at 1am Wednesday November 25 and again on Saturday 5 December at 7pm .