It seems like fans of musical theatre have been happy enough that the old hits are back in business, and that they can see their Phantom of the Opera, their Hamilton and their Frozen without needing to bring something new to the party – but Playhouse Theatre's revitalised adaptation of the 1966 classic Cabaret has proven how much theatre needed an injection of something extraordinary – and it is about to the West End's hottest ticket.
MORE: 15 best Christmas markets in the UK you need to visit in 2021
Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club has us enter the glittery world of 1930s Berlin, a liberal party place that is about to be cruelly upheaved in the horrors set to follow; with the rise of the Nazi party bringing this dazzling, raunchy dream crashing to an end.
The story follows a young American writer, Cliff (and beautifully played by It's a Sin star Omari Douglas), who visits Berlin in the hopes of finding inspiration for a novel, only to be entranced by the chaotic underground party lifestyle, while slowly realising the threat of the Nazi party's rising popularity.
The Playhouse Theatre knows it has a masterpiece on its hands here. Everything, from the uniformed Big Brother eyes of the exterior from the red-lit tunnels taking the audience underground and up into a world where scantily clad performers hang off the balconies and stall seats have been swapped out for little tables preempts that you are about to watch something special. And special it is.
SEE: 20 best things to do in festive London in December
MORE: Best festive menus in London: The ultimate guide to Christmas dinner in the city
While there is nothing neat in the Playhouse Theatre's version of the 1966 musical, that is quite the whole point. Wigs are abandoned and lipstick is smeared as characters freefall through emotions. Costumes are swapped at a dizzying pace. The cast are as bawdy and messy as Berlin itself, making the perfected choreography even more impressive.
Eddie Redmayne wastes no time in proving why he is one of the best actors of his generation as the entrancing enigma that is Emcee. He goes from clownish to sinister at every given turn, with his body and face contorting as he descends from humorous frivolity to seething hatred, taking the raucous chorus – an immensely talented group who appear to be having the time of their lives – along for the ride with him. We also have to give a special shout out to Liza Sadovy, who is wonderful as Fraulein Schneider.
To keep some things a secret, and indeed, the Playhouse Theatre is rather invested in their guests seeing the wonder for themselves – even giving out stickers to cover phone lenses - some of Eddie's costumes along with the clever staging simply must be seen to be believed. And we promise you won't look away.
Meanwhile, Jessie Buckley is not to be underestimated as the vaguely untalented Sally Bowles, who is presented as such by Jessie's own teeming genius as a singer and actress. Her Sally varies from basking in frivolity to revealing her true, heartbreaking vulnerability, to eventually returning to painful levity as the determination to live her life as if in a dream wins out, leaving exactly no one happy.
Except the audience who are on their feet in rapturous applause, of course.
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.