Cabaret review: Bernie Dieter’s Weimar Punk

A potent voice, a sparkly costume and some well honed storytelling equals a night of pure entertainment.

Bernie Dieter’s solo show displays her comedic talents and potent voice to full and fabulous effect. Striding around the stage and among the audience, she is an impressive presence in studded heels and a glittery black catsuit, effortlessly capturing the audience’s attention and admiration for the duration of the evening. With her equally talented four-piece band she performs high-energy covers alongside her own songs for a memorable night of Weimar-inspired, punk-infused cabaret. 

Dieter opens the show with a rendition of folk-singer Gillian Welch’s ‘Revelator’. It’s an unexpected choice, perhaps, but with her powerful vocal delivery she makes the song her own, giving it a harder edge. She is equally engaging when putting her unique spin on Marlene Dietrich, Billy Idol, and The Slits, or entertaining us with witty original pieces on topics such as sexuality and drinking.

In exploring such a range of material without ever losing sight of her signature style and persona, Dieter creates an immersive and compelling cabaret experience. 

This is a thoughtfully crafted show, with each song forming part of a larger narrative in a way that feels cohesive without being overly contrived or gimmicky. Dieter is a gifted storyteller with good comic timing and a fondness for lascivious detail. Her memories of her Oma, in particular, and of her family’s life in Germany, are infused with real warmth and vibrancy. These stories provide opportunities for incorporating costume changes (including a magnificent fur coat, in memory of her elegant grandmother) and other amusing visual aids. 

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Those with a fear of audience participation may wish to conceal themselves in a back corner when attending a Dieter show. She is at ease interacting with her crowd, dispersing affectionate nicknames to those who catch her eye and often leaving the stage to get up close and (very) personal with various audience members. Her charm and goodwill are plentiful enough to make insistent flirting work as a comedy routine.

The show is, after all, a celebration of intimacy. ‘We need nights like this,’ enthused Dieter towards the end of the evening – nights spent surrounded by other people, enjoying the sensuality of real life. It is certainly the kind of show that works well in a small, crowded venue, with people packed around tables (a seating arrangement that is, sadly, not a given in this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival). Exuberant and joyfully creative, Bernie Dieter’s Weimar Punk makes for a smashing night out.  

Bernie Dieter’s Weimar Punk was performed for one night only on 24 June 2022 as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.


Megan Koch is a writer and bookseller based in Adelaide. She studied English and Applied Linguistics at Flinders University.