Sunday, June 26, 2022




Weimar Punk. 

Bernie Dieter. Adelaide Cabaret Festival The Banquet Room. Adelaide Festival Centre. June 24-25 2022

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins


Bernie Dieter in Weimar Punk

She is the wildcat of the cabaret. the dark and debauched mistress of the decadent art of lasciviousness. Weimar Punk is her domain and she is its dominatrix. With a voice that can grind gravel one moment and soar to the sky the next, her power is absolute. Bernie Dieter is supreme commandant of her audience, mesmerizing and demonic, unpredictably surprising, shocking and irreverent, tantalizing and seductively sexual.  From The Slits’ Typical Girls to Marlene Dietrich’s Ich Hab’ noch einen koffer in Berlin ( I still have a suitcase in Berlin) to Paul Kelly’s Everybody Wants To Touch Me and Indie rock band MGMT’s Time To Pretend Dieter demonstrates her phenomenal range and power packed voice, backed by a band that hurl themselves into her wildness and provocative magnetism.


A major feature of her act is her interaction with the audience, up close and disarmingly personal. She invites three men to come close and stroke her before carrying her to the stage. A lost shoe and the nervous attempt by one man to put it on invites gales of laughter from patrons spared the embarrassment of participation. Dieter is in top form. Her repartee is sure fire, her command of every situation carefully controlled and deliberately confrontational. The fourth wall crumbles exposing the vulnerable, discomforting and yet tittilated in their anticipation of what this vixen of the cabaret may unexpectedly do.

“Dahlinks come close” she implores from a table in the centre of the room. It is the time to be free, to give the middle finger to isolation, to once more revel in the freedom of live theatre away from the long lockdowns, away from the stifling pandemic anxiety. There is no fear in Dieter’s world of cabaret. There is love and she is the siren of the night. She is her Oma’s granddaughter. “Do what you want to do!” her Oma told her.  

And that is exactly what Dieter does. In the more intimate Banquet Room of the Adelaide Festival Centre, Dieter stirs up a storm of her take on Weimar cabaret Weimar Punk is raucous, ribald and riotous. She is the cabaret’s temptress. Playful with Typical Girls, sentimental with Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin, or mysterious with Billie Idol’s In The Midnight Hour. Dieter is cabaret’s  divine doyenne, fated to pretend.

Suddenly, the classic cabaret look of the Weimar period is broken with the removal of her Louise Brooks styled black wig and Dieter launches into the swaggering rhythm and wild abandonment of a drinking song to close her show. It is the song of liberation, of individual freedom and of unrestrained love. ‘There’s some scary shit out there” she says, pointing to the outside world. In memory of her Oma she invites her audience to embrace the love and revel in the celebration of the spirit of her cabaret. Unconventional in its repertoire and yet true to the spirit of the classic anarchic cabaret of 1930’s Berlin, Weimar Punk’s High Priestess reminds us all to care for each other against the forces that would seek to oppress or control.  Dieter’s defiant Weimar Punk unleashes the power to face the “scary shit” out there.

Photos by Claudio Raschella