Effigies of Wickedness at the Gate Theatre

Effigies of Wickedness
Gate Theatre
3rd May to 9th June 2018

“Welcome to the cabaret of degenerate music!
Where you can be just who you want to be!

In this groundbreaking collaboration, the Gate Theatre and English National Opera present a cabaret of riotous, witty, and shockingly prophetic songs banned by the Nazis in the 1930s. 

As the Nazis identified difference as something to be afraid of, the Weimar cabaret scene danced on with songs that celebrated it. With artists from Brecht and Weill to Schoenberg, this subversive underground scene was bursting at the seams with brilliant, visionary voices.

No surprise then, that they were censored, exiled, and incarcerated shortly after as ‘degenerates’. And their songs have been all but lost since. Until now. 

Gate Theatre Artistic Director, Ellen McDougall directs the final show of her inaugural season, featuring Lucy McCormick, Peter Brathwaite, Le Gateau Chocolat and Katie Bray. “

“Effigies of Wickedness” at the Gate Theatre London, how could this go wrong you might wonder – so much fantastic material and promise – but it does seem to have missed its target. Oh dear!
What the Reviewers are saying:
 
“But something has gone wrong in the execution. Ellen McDougall’s staging, developed in collaboration with Christopher Green, is just too chummy and cosy – gemütlich, as the Germans put it – and too glitterball showbizzy as well. With the performers elaborately costumed and the stagecraft over-egged, the atmosphere is closer to that of provincial panto than a seedy backstreet dive in Berlin, with efforts to ingratiate the audience with “spontaneous” repartee, winks, nudges and asides all too evidently rehearsed to the hilt.” (The Telegraph)
 
” In a teasing curtain call the cast quell the audience into silence as they go on and on bowing like mannequins” (The Guardian),
 
“‘Effigies’ is a vivid, funny, occasionally sad, often brilliant endeavour that struggles a little bit for context. For starters, a 7.30pm start (it’s still light at the end) in a theatre without a bar is clearly very far from the optimal setting. And what exactly is it trying to achieve as a piece of theatre? Is it a celebration of the songs? A recreation of the Weimar clubs? A transposition of them into a contemporary English context? A parable warning against racism creeping into our own society? McDougall’s production never quite nails any of these things, though it takes a swing at most of them” (Time Out)
“Ellen McDougall’s uneven production is held together loosely by factual information and clowning, but some of the links feel amateurish and they drain the show of any energy that it has built up. As the audience gets showered in flowers and confetti and the stage becomes impossibly cluttered with props, we hear extracts from the Nazis’ encyclopaedia of banned songs and writers and we learn that entry therein could have been earned not only because of content deemed salacious or subversive, but through any connection whatsoever with black or Jewish people.” (The Reviews Hub)

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