Review: Halbwelt Kultur: entertaining queers then and now

A unique production and narrative exploring an important and often invisible cultural period of pre-Nazi Berlin.

These seven "Weimar Women" are the exemplification of the queer, experimental, progressive Halbwelt set. Some are household names, some less so, but all the stories equally important and representative of many of the journeys women will have chosen and be caught in during the 1920s and 30s in Germany, leading to choices for a few to leave as 1939 became too unstable to remain. Telling this important story through a feminist lens, via mixed media vignettes of dance, movement, song, comedy and monologue, whilst staying true to the format it recognises - that it has to be women that present the story. Sketches play tribute to these real historical figures, with appreciation, critical analysis, gentle mocking at times, and a great deal of deserved respect.

The show begins with an opening number designed to set the tone for the evening. Although covering serious matter, fun and humour will pepper the content. There's a nod to other familiar styles, a striking resemblance to the Cell Block Tango initially for example.

The players flow seamlessly between dance troupe and the characters they are playing, styles of dancing, fun and sombre, and elements of the cabaret of the period.

Similarities in the positives and negatives of the Halbwelt and the openness of Germany have a striking, and harrowing relevance to the world today, not just London but echoes of issues in Russia, for example, or Nigeria are sadly all to familiar.

Halbwelt Kultur is carefully structured, cleverly woven, beautifully re-enacted, both funny and haunting, thought provoking, saucy and just enjoyable.

Accompanied by contemporaneous, atmospheric live music, both joyful and sorrowful, gives the production an edge and extra depth reconfirming the authenticity of what the performance is trying to achieve.
The show closed to whoops and cheers and cries of "encore".