Skip to main content

Ute Lemper with “Rendezvous with Marlene” at The Queen’s Hall Edinburgh tonight was one of those shows that when leaving you said to yourself, “I’m glad I was in the audience for this one”.  To be clear to anyone planning to see this show at one of its tour dates, this is not a standard Ute Lemper in concert show, but a very theatrical story celebrating in words, music and song the life of the legendary Marlene Dietrich.

This production is based on a 3-hour phone call between Dietrich and Ute Lemper in 1988 just after the papers announced that Ute Lemper was “The New Dietrich” and Ute had written a letter to Marlene.   Here we have a very powerful story of one legend, Marlene, in the solitary twilight years of her career and life touching the life of another artiste just beginning her own journey to international stardom.  The way that people and events over the years begin to interweave into each other between Marlene and Ute is a story in itself and one that continues long after Marlene Dietrich’s own death.  As Ute tells us at one point, it has taken her 33 years to feel that this is the right time to make this production and let Marlene speak again on stage, and as a one woman work of theatre, this is an outstanding performance from Ute.  This show was a rare chance to see an intimate, powerful and dramatic performer at her very best, one who can captivate an audience that is silently awaiting her next word or song.  Ute Lemper is not only a performer who understands the power of theatre, but the very power of the cabaret of the Weimar Republic that Marlene Dietrich emerged from.

I have to admit to having missed much of Marlene Dietrich as a live performance artist as I was always more aware of Marlene the film star, and my main memory of her is in one of her very late and very dramatic Hollywood movie roles – A Touch of Evil (1958 co-starring Orson Welles).  This show from Ute Lemper is really not concentrating on either the cabaret star or the film star, but the woman that was Marlene, and here we get a small glimpse of someone always prepared to stand up and be heard whenever she felt her voice was needed to speak out about injustice and intolerance anywhere that she saw it.  That voice made her at times hugely unpopular with many people, and during the years of Nazi rule in Germany, put her in a potentially very dangerous personal position.

“Rendezvous with Marlene” is a story that makes no attempt to gloss over or ignore the rise to power of Hitler and the German Nazi Party, or the forever infamous events that followed, including concentration camps and “The Final Solution”.  Here, it is clear that Ute is both following in Marlene’s footsteps, and the very traditions of German cabaret itself, to constantly challenge those in authority and hold them accountable for their actions.

What about the music though.... read the full article here.