The Bluebirds at Caryford Hall and on tour

The BluebirdsBERLIN Cabaret came to Castle Cary last night in the form of singing duo Sasha Herriman and Tami Tal, aka The Bluebirds.

The show, which is on a short tour, was co-promoted by Take Art, Somerset’s enterprising arts charity, and hard-working local promoters Judi and Oliver Morrison. With the Caryford Hall suitably transformed for the occasion and an appreciative audience sitting around tables and enjoying a drink or two, this was the perfect recipe for a lovely evening’s entertainment.

The Bluebirds themselves are great singers and full of fun. They are also adept at delivering songs from across the musical spectrum. But whereas the singing was unfailingly good, some of the humour needed a stronger directorial eye and considerable tightening up. Their opening set, which included Delibes’ Flower Duet and a piece from The Magic Flute, had some cleverly re-written lyrics to keep us well and truly alert, but did we really need to be told that we were on a dodgy Air Berlin flight to Honolulu, that there was only one toilet … etc.? The context was unnecessary and, for me at least, detracted from the music.

Particularly in the light of the recent events in France and Belgium, I was also expecting something rather grittier and satirical in terms of repertoire rather than the predominantly well-known, light-song-and-dance entertainment that was on offer. In that I was disappointed and it took me a little while to get into the swing of things. However, once I had come to terms with the fact that this particular Berlin Cabaret was not going to be a risqué musical examination of contemporary political and social issues, I sat back, relaxed, downed half a glass of red wine and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The best numbers were superb. Mein Herr, from the show Cabaret, the Tango Ballade from Threepenny Opera and Kurt Weill’s My Ship were among my personal favourites, the singers skillfully drawing us into the world of their song. The touches of harmony were magical and they were performed with an intensity and conviction that did not need any “stage business” for want of a better expression. Less successful were numbers like Do-Re-Me from The Sound of Music, I’m a Barbie Girl and I Will Survive. It’s not just that they are less good songs, but rather that the humour required to make them work in an evening such as this didn’t come off.

There were some good comic moments however. I enjoyed their impudent take on Rossini’s famous Cats Duet, done as two cows, with mooing rather than miaowing of course, (actually I thought it was probably better than the original) while Marlene Dietrich’s sultry Falling in Love Again was given a whole new twist by the addition of a large slab of chocolate cake. A final note of congratulation must go to Andrea Monk (piano) and Sean Davey (bass) whose fine playing throughout was an absolute delight.

An evening of burlesque and bodices was, I think, probably The Bluebird’s intention, but they did not have sufficient dance and comedy skills to carry it off. Maybe they should give Berlin Cabaret a different title – one that matches their real strength which is, of course, singing. With this in mind, and with a bit of appropriate re-working, it shouldn’t take much to turn it into an excellent show.

Local audiences can catch the cabaret again on Friday 6th March at Kingsdon Village Hall, near Somerton.



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