Performance review: Bernie Dieter’s Club Kabarett, FRINGE WORLD, WA

A sexy and subversive celebration of difference.
Bernie Dieter's Club Kabarett. A woman in black feathers against a hazy spotlit backdrop throws her head back while stretching up her arms and singing into a microphone.

Rocking big heels and an even bigger voice, Bernie Dieter arrives at FRINGE WORLD after a three-month season on London’s West End. An intoxicating blend of theatrics, circus, aerials and kabarett, the vibe begins pre-show, with a glittering private bar for premium ticket holders. 

Appearing onstage in spiky shoes, torn fishnets, feathers and leathery goodness, this charismatic mistress of punk kabarett kicks off her heels to get among the masses. Whether it’s an ego stroke from the whole crowd, or a leg stroke from an individual audience member, Dieter feeds off the energy of her appreciative audience, getting up close and personal with members of the crowd. Her hilarious banter is accompanied by an electrifying three-piece band.

Backlit, with exactly the correct amount of fog, Dieter and her killer trio are soon joined on stage by a series of performers, whose daring and sensual acts perfectly complement the live music.

From scantily-clad fire twirling to fabulously suggestive drag, this show has everything you’d expect, and more. A corseted trapeze artist – the embodiment of balance and androgyny – gradually undresses amid a selection of tricks performed while swinging, spinning and splitting.

Big boots, an iron core and anti-gravity properties feature in a titillating pole performance. Bending minds by bending body parts, performers display astounding feats of flexibility and strength.

The audience can feel the fiery energy emanating from the stage during an incandescent contortionist act, followed by some fabulously suggestive – and transformative – drag. If music is the heartbeat of the show, and Dieter’s voice is the pulse, aerial acts may be the spine. Every standout moment (far too many to mention) elicits audience admiration, but none more so than Dieter herself. 

Sonically and aesthetically exhilarating, the sound and lighting design are so good you can practically taste the dramatic tension. This satisfying cohesion of audiovisual elements is enhanced by a combination of creative costumes and clever curation. Bathed in a syrup of chunky riffs and stage fog, this sensuous variety show is held together by the magnetism and vocal styling of Dieter, who expertly captivates the audience throughout.

Read: Exhibition review: Mai Nguyễn-Long, Kôgábịnô, Wollongong Art Gallery

Bernie Dieter’s Club Kabarett is a sexy and subversive celebration of art and individuality. More than just a show, this is an experience. 

Bernie Dieter’s Club Kabarett

Bernie Dieter’s Club Kabarett will be performed until 18 February 2024.

Tickets: $65–$120

Nanci Nott is a nerdy creative with particular passions for philosophy and the arts. She has completed a BA in Philosophy, and postgraduate studies in digital and social media. Nanci is currently undertaking an MA in Creative Writing, and is working on a variety of projects ranging from novels to video games. Nanci loves reviewing books, exhibitions, and performances for ArtsHub, and is creative director at Defy Reality Entertainment.