The Reading University Drama Society (RUDS) presents a very high number of plays and musicals throughout the year; however, their decision to produce Cabaret seems to have been tailored-made for this turbulent time in our history. The book and lyrics, by Joe Masteroff and Fred Ebb, could have been written today, and the performance by RUDS showed that contemporariness. The musical, skilfully directed by Amelia James-Phillips, did not attempt to relocate the play in a contemporary setting, simply because it was not necessary. Having done so would have implied an over-explanation to the audience, which had no problem to engage with it.
One of the major difficulties when producing Cabaret is the stamp of the film starring Liza Minnelli as the mind of the spectator. Everyone has probably watched the film and remembers the gorgeous interpretation of its actors. However, RUDS avoided the comparison by creating different identities for the characters, and thus, imitation was avoided and their interpretation prevailed over the emulation. For example, the well-known character of Emcee, played by Joel Grey in the original Broadway musical and 1972 film, was not as comical and flamboyant as the film suggests; but, instead, the RUDS production emphasizes his most obscure and evil side.
Overall, RUDS’s production of Cabaret was enjoyable and professional, with some good ideas, despite lacking originality in some respects. Though the talented cast could have been utilised in more creative ways, Reading’s Drama Society opted for a certain conservativeness in their production of Cabaret, which produced some good results.