Little Death Club at Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows was pretty full this evening, and when you consider that this is one of the wettest Fringe days that I have known in many years, that is a tribute in itself to the star of this show, Bernie Dieter, Queen of “Weimar Punk” cabaret and also star of “Cirque Du Soleil’s” more outrageous “little sister” show “La Clique”.
The format of the show is in essence a simple one, this is Bernie Dieter’s Little Death Club and be in no doubt that this lady is in total control of everything that happens here, and everyone in it. The format allows us to meet Bernie and her dysfunctional family of misfits with a potentially ever changing array of performers and, tonight, the Spiegeltent on the Meadows was a perfect stage and setting for this show.
Whenever I think of “Weimar Republic” cabaret, I imagine it to have been of course full of sexual content and references to alcohol and many other substances of pleasure, but I also imagine razor sharp social and political commentary. Here, the latter is omitted in favour of the first two in many cases. With the dual role of compere and performer, Bernie is the link that holds everything together here and although some of the content of the show was not to my taste, it is obvious that here is a slick and consummate professional at work who knows exactly how to deal with a live audience.
Bernie Dieter writes her own musical material, and it is an odd contrasting mixture as on the one hand we have songs of sexual explicitness that have no shock value anymore and can come over as predictable, counterbalanced with ones of real emotions and powerful statements. Having said this though, this is “The Little Death Club”, it is cabaret, and the show is delivering exactly what it promises to do, and the audience are loving every minute of it. There is, as some unseen cabaret “rule-book” out there dictates, audience interaction and from the beginning Bernie is out there looking for “willing” audience members; let’s face it folks, if you are seated front row, or close by at a show like this, then you know what to expect.
This is clearly Bernie Dieter’s world of her own creation at “Little Death Club” and the band from the beginning give everything that “punk” feel, reminding me of the many punk bands that I saw first time around. For some reason at times, the music and the feel of the show also reminded me of one of my favourite shows, “The Rocky Horror Show”, and if Frank-N-Furter ever opened his own club, I imagine it would be something like this with a contortionist, who also does a very good aerial act, (Beau Sargent), fire-swallower (Kitty Bang Bang), an “under-the-top drag diva” (Myra DuBois) and a very melancholy Marcel all performing for “our pleasure”.
One thing throughout this show that is never in doubt though is the power and the vocal range of Bernie Dieter’s vocals and it would be interesting to maybe one day hear that very special voice on some classic Jacques Brel songs.
This show is an early evening one at 8 pm, and I suspect a very diluted in outrageousness one to later in the evening shows or different performance venues, and it is always the mark of a professional performer when they can adapt their show to different audiences.
The real theme of this show though, underneath the music and the performances, is to accept people as they are, enjoy their differences, not fear them or attack them for that. For myself, I trust a cabaret artist in his best six inch high stiletto heels standing in front of me on stage before someone holding a AK-47.
Little Death Club
Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows
Aug 11, 13-24
Country: United Kingdom - England
Group: Underbelly and Dead Man Label
Warnings and additional info: Nudity, Strong Language/Swearing
Review by Tom King