Belfast Telegraph

Berlin with a whiff of old Soho as Mac goes back in time

Review: Cabaret at The Mac, Belfast

By Michael Conaghan

The downstairs theatre at the Mac having been decked out as as a seedy Berlin nightclub, I was feeling a little overdressed in my reviewer's outfit of trenchcoat and fedora tilted at a rakish angle.

Cabaret is a perennial favourite, with each new generation rediscovering the story.

Set in 1931 Berlin as the Nazis are rising to power, it is based in nightlife at the seedy Kit Kat Klub, and revolves around the 19-year-old English cabaret performer Sally Bowles and her relationship with the young American writer Cliff Bradshaw.

Up in the gods we had a grand view of the tables down below, plus the orchestra draped alluringly opposite.

As a show, Cabaret depends on the tone set by the Emcee, memorably played by Joel Grey in the movie.

Thankfully Patrick J O'Reilly demonstrated from the off he had both the chutzpah and the hint of nastiness to succeed.

This was Berlin with a whiff of old Soho.

Kerri Quinn as Sally was a hoity toity revenant from the Queen Vic, arguably too wholesome to carry off all that bump and grind successfully, but those very qualities helped her to nail her big number Maybe This Time. Equally, Matthew Forsythe as Ciff seemed a bit too 'aw shucks' to have a secret gay past, but this was a minor quibble as the big setpiece numbers were carried off with athleticism and aplomb, particularly effective when the mood darkened and Tomorrow Belongs To Me became a shrill 'come all ye' breaking up the wedding party of Mrs Schneider, a beautifully judged performance by Katie Tumelty.

Indeed it was hard not greet a number like If You Could See Her Through My Eyes without wondering if applause was a kind of collaboration – but there was no ambivalence about the cheers for Kerri Quinn's impassioned delivery of the title song.

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