CamdenNewJournal

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Review: Bernie Dieter’s Berlin Underground – Underbelly Festival

19 August, 2021 — By Lucy Popescu

Bernie Dieter. Photo: Craig Sugden

FOR a rousing hour of song, spectacle and acrobatics head down to the Spiegeltent in Cavendish Square for the Underbelly Festival’s main attraction. Bernie Dieter is billed as “the most debauched kabarett star east of Berlin” and she certainly lives up to her reputation in this deliciously salacious, absinthe-soaked, evening’s entertainment.

In Berlin Underground she is joined by fabulous hula hoop queen Lisa Lottie, who dazzles with her physical dexterity and the sheer number of hoops she can keep in motion at any one time.

Jonathan and Ben Finch-Brown are partners on and off the stage and make up Little Finch. Ben’s aerial hoop performance nearly brought the house down, while Jonathan’s athletic hand balancing is also impressive. They start off in sailors’ costumes but end with an unforgettable, scantily clad, joint act on a suspended anchor.

Joa makes up the troupe. She began her career as a professional ballerina. Discovering the beauty of pole dancing in the depths of Soho, she claims to have never looked back.

Together these talented performers create the feel of an exclusive club and this is an unabashed celebration of voice and body. The costumes are sensational with plenty of fur, glitz, sequins and savage heels.

Dieter is accompanied throughout by her superb Weimar-punk jazz band. Her songs are, by turn, kitsch, bawdy and mournful, and her interactions with members of the audience are deliberately flirtatious. If anyone thought about objecting (they don’t) she’s quick to respond with arch humour: “I’m sorry if you brought your parents tonight.”

My only gripe is that they pack us in tight, when they don’t need to, and the unbridled (and unmasked) cheering at the end seems foolhardy, especially given the number of shows still being forced to close due to Covid. Otherwise, Berlin Underground comes highly recommended.

Suitable for 16 +.
Until August 29
underbellyfestival.com/whats-on/berlin-underground

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