You've got one week left to see this cracking production of I Am A Camera, running until May 29th at the Rosemary Branch Theatre. Inspired by Christopher Isherwood's novel 'Goodbye To Berlin', the play tells the story of introspective writer Chris 'Issyvoo' (as his German landlady refers to him) and Sally Bowles, a wanton innocent who flits from idea to idea in a captivating whirl of gin, feathers and green nail varnish.
The action takes place in a single room - the flat that is first Chris's then Sally's - and charts their (sometimes rash) attempts to make lives and meaning for themselves amidst the increasing tumult of 1930's Berlin. Both leads give memorable performances and make their characters' self absorbed lives and complex platonic relationship completely engrossing, despite the more pressing threat of Nazism that lurks just outside the window. The outside world is, however, dragged in thanks to a small cast of minor characters, the most engaging of which is perhaps landlady Fräulein Schneider, whose comic yet domestic outlook on life is slowly, chillingly altered by Nazi ideals.
Director Owen Calvert-Lyons, who is also currently working at the Arcola, has done a commendable job of contrasting Sally's borrowed glitz and flights of fancy with the grimmer realities of the pair's situation and the escalating violence outside. The diminutive space is, as ever, a great place to stage such intimate works and, in particular, the visceral shock of being able to smell cigarette smoke from on stage makes it hard to distance yourself from the action. Much is made of 'I Am A Camera' being the inspiration for the musical 'Cabaret', but the Rosemary Branch's production proves that the original still has great potential.
I Am A Camera runs until 29th May at the Rosemary Branch and tickets start from £10. For more information visit http://www.rosemarybranch.co.uk/-i-am-a-camera/