“Fabulett 1933” at the Drayton Arms Theatre presented a thought-provoking and bold take on the impact of the rise of fascism in 1933 Germany on the queer community.
Michael Trauffer, who wrote and performed the one-man musical, deserves applause for his ambition in connecting a historical piece to today’s world, where many societies are moving to the right. He did a fine job in embodying Felix, the host of Berlin’s “most decadent” club, with his portrayal of the flamboyant character, wearing various costumes, including black leather, big skirts, sequined caps and a whip. However, the limited time for plot development and a lack of tension throughout the piece detracted from its overall impact. The inclusion of surprising details, such as the attendance of Nazi officers at the club, of course added a new layer, linking Germany’s relationship to Hitler with that of forbidden love, but it was not enough to truly sustain the 60-minute show. Also, the stark and cold atmosphere of the Drayton Arms Theatre really detracted from the overall experience also. The venue was not well suited at all to the piece, and its intimate nature would have been much better served in a more appropriate club or bar venue, as has recently been seen with other similar productions elsewhere in London.
While the songs (some original), accompanied by the pianist, were tuneful and accurately echoed the musical style of the period, they lacked a range of styles and emotions, and eventually became repetitive. Traffer’s voice also lacked the depth and power necessary to truly bring the songs to life, and the musical would have been much stronger and had a greater impact with a larger cast, to add depth and nuance to the story being told. However, the pianist was exceptional, lending the performance a level of skill and musicality that elevated the show and kept the songs interesting.
By far, the show’s strongest aspect was the connection between the writing and today’s rise of the populist right and of fascism, which was highlighted in a post-show speech by Traffer. However, it would have been more impactful if a greater connection was made during the performance itself.
Reviewer: Alan Stuart Malin
Reviewed: 9th February 2023
North West End UK Rating: ★★★