Before we go any further, let me state for the record that Bernie Dieter’s Berlin Underground is hands down hilarious, and it knows it.
Situating itself somewhere between classic Weimer-style kabarett and the very best performances seen at a place like Soho’s exclusive A-list haunt, The Box, the show packs enough laughs and spine-tingling spectacle into its hour long run time, that you leave wanting to prolong the party and find some more debauchery afterwards.
Emcee and show co-creator Bernie Dieter is one of the best-loved and most acclaimed cabaret performers on the UK and Australian arts festival scene. Described as the “undisputed queen of punk cabaret,” Bernie blends biting satire, dark fantasy and cutting-edge social commentary, which in the covid age, and the universal wave of a return to stage, has the audience sharing a deep sense of catharsis and relief.
Laughter is always the best medicine, but what truly sparks the imagination and lifts the spirits is the fusion of circus, dance, and gender bending acrobatics. In a summer where athletes and footballers have hogged the headlines for their physical achievements, Berlin Underground is a more accessible and pure display of feats the human body and mind are capable of when focused, or filled with Absinthe. The return of audiences must also be an extra incentive for performers of this calibre.
the show packs enough laughs and spine-tingling spectacle into its hour long run time, that you leave wanting to prolong the party and find some more debauchery afterwards
And Bernie riffs on this throughout, but not the way you would expect. Audiences beware.
Joining Bernie is an all-star cast featuring queen of hula hooping Lisa Lottie, spectacular aerial and hand-to-hand acrobatic duo Little Finch, and ballerina turned breath-taking pole artist Jao.
Whilst there’s no doubting that watching Lisa Lottie dance with what seems like a hundred hula hoops, or Little Finch (my personal faves) balance and bend in unimaginable ways, is nothing short of awesome, the real highlight, or at least the moment that drew the most vocal and guttural response from the audience and me, was a song.
With a title too rude to repeat here, it proved the perfect interlude, and is now firmly, and pleasingly burnt into my memory.
Going into this with little prior knowledge, but high expectation, I was delighted to find a truly live experience, of high-end entertainment, audience interaction, and NSFW titillation. And there’s not a box set binge on earth that can satisfy those very primal and human needs.
The show stopping closer, a cover of MGMT’s Time to Pretend, was a final moment of utter class, and it took me a few minutes to join the dots and realise what song it was, largely as a result of how Dieter takes the song and totally makes it her own. It left me walking on air on my journey home, and urging friends to book their tickets.
Bernie Dieter’s Berlin Underground is a perfect night out, and unlike a night at somewhere like The Box, it won’t (morally) bankrupt you or break up a happy home… unless you want it to.