Starman (Sven Ratzke)
Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent
September 12 – 13
It is Tuesday night, near the Brisbane ‘fairy wheel’ and the Magic Mirrors Speigeltent is packed with music fans and cabaret connoisseurs alike, in await of Sven Ratzke’s “Starman” show, inspired by the music of David Bowie. We look gorgeous, we are told, and so does the rock and roll serpent himself, strutting about the stage in an impressive fashion ensemble of the Ziggy Stardust sort, in an early-show rendition of ‘Rebel Rebel’.
This is the hyper-real world of ‘70s glam rock where Sven Ratzke inhabits Bowie’s multiple personas in exploration of his life from New York to Berlin, in the most original of ways. “Starman” is not what you might expect of a Bowie tribute show. The songs, although there, are few and far between, for example. But that is ok, because what the audience is given instead, is the most random of rides through tell of his anticipation of coming to Brisbane and experience of staging the show across the ditch in New Zealand. The larger-than-life Dutch-German cabaret artist is an immensely talented performer, and you could easily listen to his eccentric (and hilarious) monologue stories of camels and bikes, pineapples and cocaine all night, thanks to the engaging physicality and characterisation with which he accompanies them. Indeed, the night is full of clever comedy, including ongoing call-backs to audience interaction contributions that are just as funny with their every mention.
And then there is the music. Song selection is not predicable (#inagoodway) with numbers like a lingering ‘Lady Grinning Soul’ sitting alongside a stripped-back and entrancing ‘Space Oddity’. Accompanied by a first-rate three-man band, Ratzke, presents the sometimes cryptic songs with an intimacy that allows the lyrics to speak anew. And his voice is superb, particularly in captivating delivery of a poignantly beautiful ‘Heros’ to triumph the show.
Like a supernova, this starburst of cabaret is over all too soon, leaving audiences aglow from its unique experience. In both its classic songs and surrealist storytelling, “Starman” transcends preconceptions in the very best of ways, making it a glam ride of entertainment not to be missed, whether you be Bowie, cabaret or comedy fan.