Luke Morrison

I Am A Camera

Isherwood's Cabaret inspiration returns to the stage.

Christopher Isherwood has, of late, been seen rather more in popular culture than previously. From the Oscar-winning adaptation of A Single Man, to the recent BBC film Christopher and His Kind, not forgetting the republishing of Isherwood's diaries – it seems like his work is more popular than ever.

So, this small scale production of I Am A Camera feels particularly timely. The play, which was the inspiration for the film Cabaret, follows a small segment of Christopher's time in Berlin in the 1930s, during the inevitable rise to power of the Nazis and the decline of Berlin as Europe's capital of hedonistic debauchery.

The production, in the tiny Rosemary Branch theatre, is deftly handled under the direction of Owen Calvert-Jones, who handles the text with a subtle and understated approach which allows the characters themselves room to shine.

The most memorable thing about I Am A Camera is our introduction to the remarkable Sally Bowles, forever immortalised by Liza Minnelli and Bob Fosse in the film Cabaret. The character is mercurial and charming, and Vicki Campbell manages to capture the character's contradictions and changing nature admirably.

Opposite her, Mark Jackson's Christopher (or Herr Issywoo, as he is more commonly known in the play) is restrained and calm, and his stillness is a great counterpoint to his counterpart's chaotic energy. His clipped, slightly nasal, voice brings to life the real man without feeling too near to being an impression.

Overall, if you’ve not seen this play, then it’s definitely worth the walk to the Rosemary Branch to see a production which is performed far too infrequently.

Runs until 29 May at The Rosemary Branch Theatre, London, N1. Tickets at the theatre's website.

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