“Life is a cabaret, old chum!” It’s one of the most recognisable lines in the history of musical theatre. Even the title, Cabaret, rings a bell to those unfamiliar with musicals. Opening on Broadway in 1966, the musical became a cultural sensation, captured forever in the 1972 film adaptation starring Liza Minnelli. It was further invigorated by Sam Mendes’ Donmar production in 1993, which cemented it as a classic that could retain its charm across decades. With a story about a society on the brink of upheaval it feels eerily pertinent in our contemporary political milieu; it’s like this new production at the Hayes production has arrived just in time.
However, under the direction of Nicholas Cristo, the Hayes production is less innovative than it is tame; it prioritises colourful extravaganza over biting political commentary, and runs out of steam well before the finale.