RCS, Glasgow

Keith Bruce

five stars

OF COURSE one might wish it otherwise, but once again the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland fills a gap that plainly now exists in Scottish cultural provision. Not so very long ago, Dundee Rep toured superb versions of Kander and Ebb musicals. If you are fortunate enough to have a ticket for one of the handful of performances of this new version of the most famous one, you will be seeing something just as good.

Andrew Panton's production uses every inch of the New Athenaeum space – although designer Kenneth Macleod has provided a perfectly realised, cleverly adaptable set – with our Emcee (a stunning performance by Christopher Jordan-Marshall) making his first appearance on the lighting grid high over the heads of the audience, and wide-eyed Cliff Bradshaw (Dimitri Gripari) arriving down the centre aisle. Before long you may have a scantily-clad Kit Kat girl (or boy) on your lap, and at the end of Act One, Nazi banners unfurl in the auditorium. There has not been so much fetishistic costuming and Third Reich regalia onstage in Glasgow since the Citizens' of 35 years ago.

The clarity of the morality tale, complete with symbols of Kristallnacht and a heap of discarded shoes at the front of the stage at the end, is exemplary, but so is the narrative of these characters, thanks to uniformly excellent performances from all the principals, led by Eleanor Griffiths as the decadent, damaged Sally Bowles. Both she and Gripari are the fully- formed vocal article as well, but there is absolutely no weak link in the whole company, who are very much that, never at any time a "year group". EJ Boyle's choreography is a feast of splendidly realised sexual athleticism and the onstage band under David Higham produced the ideal blend of sleaze and precision playing. A complete triumph.