Review: Bernie Dieter's Berlin Underground Is Deliciously Debauched

Bernie Dieter's Berlin Underground ★★★★★

Review: Bernie Dieter's Berlin Underground Is Deliciously Debauched Bernie Dieter's Berlin Underground 5
"I'm sorry if you brought your parents." - Bernie Dieter hosts her Berlin Underground show. Image: Craig Sugden

One of London's finest homegrown cabaret artistes, Bernie Dieter, has returned from Down Under to present a sexy, provocative and cathartically topical show.

Dieter has been a familiar sight in London over the last decade as one half of cult act EastEnd Cabaret, an Australian musical duo who made their mark with a residency at The Strand’s Cellardoor before gaining an army of converts with gigs at Soho Theatre, Torture Garden, and an infamous West End squat.

Lisa Lottie performs at Berlin Underground
Lisa Lottie brings the house down. Image: Craig Sugden

Hosted at the revived and relocated London Wonderground, Berlin Underground is Dieter’s follow up to 2019's Little Death Club. It has the same charming blend of adult humour, erotic performances and thrilling live music care of her soaring vocals and house band.

This time around she’s joined by a quartet of talented acrobats who light up the Paradiso Spiegeltent with exciting physical displays of supreme skill.

The husband-and-husband team of Jonathan and Ben Finch-Brown, appearing here with both solo and joint pieces, set the tone early on with outrageously sexy mid-air contorting and cavorting while wearing outfits that are little more than spangly pants and strapping; after some exquisite individual aerial hoop and hand-balancing routines, they join forces on a hanging anchor for an act which takes the breath away.

Jonathan and Ben Finch-Brown set the tone early on with outrageously sexy mid-air contorting and cavorting. Image: Craig Sugden.

Ex ballerina-cum-pole dancer Jao twists and turns around her apparatus with enviable confidence, timing and sensuality while Lisa Lottie brings the house down with dazzling hula mastery.

But the main attraction, quite rightly, is Dieter. She drives the action from minute one with cheeky quips, saucy audience interaction (knowingly restrained) and deliciously debauched songs. Midway through bawdy
singalong Lick My Pussy, she makes her one 'apology' to the crowd: "I'm sorry if you brought your parents."

Jao twists and turns with enviable confidence, timing and sensuality. Image: Craig Sugden.

Although the three original numbers here never hit the heights of East End Cabaret’s repertoire like DangerW**k, that's made up for with the likes of a wonderfully poignant cover version of MGMT’s Time To Pretend. Stripped away from the faux-jaunty electronica and re-tooled as a torch song, the maudlin lyrics are given new life and provide a strange sense of catharsis for the past year. It's something to savour — but then, so is this entire show.

Bernie Dieter’s Berlin Underground. London Wonderground, Cavendish Square Gardens. Tickets £20-£42. Until 29 August.

Last Updated 09 August 2021