“What is cabaret?”
There’s no simple answer. It’s a form that goes back to the nightclubs of fin-de-siècle Paris and Weimar Berlin, to the songs of Edith Piaf, to the modern-day drag of Martha Graham Cracker. As Bearded Ladies’ artistic director John Jarboe asked himself that question, he decided the answer could best be realized through cabaret.
DO YOU WANT A COOKIE? brings together performers from Philadelphia, New York, Europe, and Mexico City in a sprawling three-story warehouse space north of Chinatown. Audience members witness less than half the cabaret performances on offer (we are assigned a floor in the first half and can choose in the second). This reviewer witnessed Dito van Reigersberg’s musical explanation for his better-known stage name Martha Graham Cracker (including a great version of Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love”), a sample of the black-dressed, verge-of-suicide Eastern European version of cabaret, and a story of a famous nightclub in 1940s New York founded by a German-Jewish refugee. Mexican cabaret artist Tareke Ortiz (see him on the cover of the Fringe Guide) provided the highlight, a transportive glimpse at the colorful, soulful cabaret of his mother and mother country. Jarboe’s friendly monologues and full-group pieces bookend and intertwine the skilled performances by lead artists and backing bands.
We leave the venue without a firm grasp of cabaret history, but an appreciation of its breadth and immersive energy.
[448 N. 10th Street] September 4-16, 2018; fringearts.com/event/do-you-want-a-cookie