Review: Diva Divas
If you’re expecting a straight serving of musical interpretations of diva’s hits from days gone by – Sven Ratzke’s Diva Divas is going to scare the bejesus out of you.
Not that that’s a bad thing. Ratzke is one of the most engaging, hilarious, talented performers to stride a stage. No wonder he’s the darling of the Berlin cabaret scene. I’m just saying this is not the kind of cabaret the pearls and twinset would expect. But then, Ratzke’s next role is playing Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch – so that should assist you in dialling up the right attitude to enjoy this show.
Diva Divas is as much about storytelling as it is about the songs Ratzke sings. With an imagination as nimble as his, you soon understand that general stage banter will never satisfy this performer, as he makes up elaborate tales to deliver the backstory for each of the songs he sings.
From naked audience members festooned in diamonds encountering a divine Shirley Bassey to a caged Eartha Kitt, a midget Woody Allen and a voodoo-loving Nina Simone, Ratzke’s flights of fancy are entertaining and hilarious. He prances and struts, shimmies and shakes, spouts funny quotes and teases the audience, as he delivers each Diva warts and all. Intensity builds until the Diva is finally revealed and she/he breaks forth in song.
Ratzke unleashes the voodoo mistress for ‘I Put A Spell On You’ conjures up a drunk and divine Garland for 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' and serves up a German-English version of 'Windmills of Your Mind' that was simply superb.
All the while Ratzke is accompanied by one of the most virtuoso piano players I have seen in years. Charlie Zastrau, who looks like a baby-faced Brad Pitt, is incredible in his accompaniment. Ratzke clearly knows this and allows Zastrau his own time to shine within the musical arrangements. I wouldn't be surprised if we were to see this shy piano player in a show of his own, one day soon.
Zastrau aside, this is Ratzke’s show from start to finish. His larger than life delivery, spontaneity and absolute love for what he is doing shines out of him and laps onto the audience like a breaking wave. Sometimes you might rattle around and get dumped but other times you can ride it all the way to the shore. But one thing is certain, there’s no denying you’ll keep going back for more.