FABULETT 1933 at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
“Trauffer’s performance is full of charisma”
Our story begins in 1932 in the fabulous Fabulett cabaret club in Berlin. Fascism is on the rise and queer clubs and culture spaces are under attack. Tonight is the last night of club Fabulett before they close their doors for good at 10pm. Looking after us for the evening is our host, Felix, who appears in leather pants and corset, with black gloves, a cape and a cain. He is accompanied by pianist James Hall who plays the tunes in this camptastic musical variety show. Despite this being the place where the first gender-affirming surgery was performed, a country where queerness had the opportunity to flourish, Felix (Michael Trauffer), and his queerness, is not fully embraced by his family. As he uncovers stories from his past, we learn that he moved to Berlin to live his true self, away from his father who thought that fighting in the war would be the thing to make him finally “man up”.
Trauffer’s performance is full of charisma. Whilst telling us the poignant details of his past, of his broken relationship with his family, he’s also able to find lots of humour and a glittery sense of fun, especially with the music numbers. He stands centre stage, performing a number about wanting his queerness to be ‘visible’, a song he reprises a couple of times throughout the show. The musical numbers are a little static. During one of them, Trauffer mounts a suitcase which he begins to whip as he discovers his kinkier side. But a little more choreography could go a long way to let these numbers really shine.
There’s some letter writing to his mother back home, for which Felix decides to hide his threesomes and instead refer to all the new ‘friends and acquaintances’ he’s made. After the death of his mother, he’s told not to come back home by his dad. But he makes it as a big star in the cabaret, despite the nightmares and flashbacks from his war days creeping into his sleep. There are moments of real poignancy, which nicely contrast with the high-energy musical numbers.
At the end of the night, the Fabulett closes, and we’re left with an important message about the rise of fascism. Just as the Nazis closed down the cabaret clubs in the 1930s, the same thing could happen again. With censorship, threats to freedom of speech, and an increase in LGBTQ+ hate-crime on the rise, it could happen under our noses. And any of us could be at risk of losing our freedoms. The story is a little surface level at times, but nevertheless it’s a very entertaining hour of performance, with a captivating performance from Trauffer.
Reviewed 10th August 2022
by Joseph Winer
Photography by Edwin Louis
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