Eight months on since the shocking news of David Bowie’s death and somehow it still doesn’t seem real. More than a rock star Bowie’s influence and presence are so ingrained in our cultural DNA that his spectral presence still hovers over us informing our thoughts and his music is as potent, poignant and essential as ever.
This show by Sven Ratzke places some of these songs in a cabaret setting and accompanying narrative. It is not such a shock to hear some of Bowie’s greatest works given the cabaret treatment as Bowie himself was as influenced by cabaret as any other genre.
I mean what are Five Years and Rock and Roll Suicide –the opening and closing tracks of his classic Ziggy Stardust album- if not cabaret informed by the currency of rock and roll and even this show’s title song Starman leans so heavily on Judy Garland’s Over the Rainbow that it could be considered grand theft. That was always Bowie’s genius though, being able to steal all the right elements and put them together in a totally new and imaginative way.
The songs that Ratzke features in this show include a jazz tinged Rebel Rebel, a beautiful Lady Grinning Soul, a Weimar influenced Time, Space Oddity and a strident Heroes.
I wasn’t quite as keen on the inter-song banter however and found it overplayed and on occasion meandering. It was never quite as funny as it aimed to be and often felt added on and unnecessary.
The songs however speak for themselves and who cares if Ratzke is no David Bowie as there never was and never will be another like him, so trying to compete is pointless. The show has its moments and when it shines it really does sparkle in stardust. It is a shame that the dialogue in-between doesn’t match these moments as if this wasimproved upon it would make the difference between merely a good show and a great one!
Starman is at The Assembly Spiegletent at 20.45 until the 28th August