Dietrich lives again thanks to performer Peter Groom
Reviewed at the Noel Lothian Hall on 17 February 2019
Performed by Peter Groom, a Jimmy Jewell and Joanne Hartstone presentation
All the superlatives – such as ‘Not to be missed’; Can’t be faulted’; and ‘An absolute tour de force’ – on this show’s flyer are incredibly well deserved and not mere hyperbole. Peter Groom’s performance as Marlene Dietrich – the sultry, siren from Germany is brilliant. She/he has the sexiest overbite I have ever seen.
Groom co-wrote the piece with director Oliver Gully whose staging is simple yet compelling, as ‘Dietrich’ recalls her journey from student to film star, then her life in America and her war work. A fabulous, spectacular gown, designed by Kathleen Nellis, is worn throughout the performance. Sound cues of both voices off, such as a persistent interviewer, plus music are timed to the millisecond.
When recalling her screen test for the 1930 film The Blue Angel, Groom’s comic genius and timing is on display as her/his accompanianist seems unable to get the tempo of her song right and she/he berates the piano player in German. This film role led to Dietrich moving to Hollywood, which is described in the show as a land ‘of perfect teeth and ice cream’.
Groom has an incredible ability to convey the emotional truth of these vignettes from Dietrich’s life to the audience. We can both see and hear the disgust, and some fear, when she/he is speaking to Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda chief, about renewing her/his passport. Later she/he pokes fun at how ridiculous the Nazi leadership looked in their black leather costumes, sorry uniforms, when visiting sunny California before America entered WWII.
Groom has a terrific voice and the talent to cover the whole range of songs for which Dietrich is known. The songs in the show include the classics Lili Marlene and Falling in Love Again as well as lesser known songs which the star sang on her morale boosting tours across Europe, performing for American troops.
With quivering lips and tears running down her/his face, Groom gave a moving rendition of Where Have All The Flowers Gone? as a comment on the terrible waste of lives in the war. Dietrich herself performed the somg in the 1960s and 70s.
Groom is a consummate performer and presents a five star production.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Venue: 1. Noel Lothian Hall at Noel Lothian Hall – Adelaide Botanic Garden Enter via Hackney Rd
- The Pocket at Stirling Fringe, Piccaillyangga/Coventry Library Lawns, 63 Mt Barker Rd, Stirling
3.The Parlour at Stirling Fringe, Piccaillyangga/Coventry Library Lawns, 63 Mt Barker Rd, Stirling
Season: 1. 19 Feb to 17 March (except Mondays) at 7.45pm 2. 28 Feb at 2.30pm 3. 2-3 March at 5pm
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: $22.00 to $30.00 Concession: $25.00 to $28.00