Is it the sex or the politics that has fascinated us about Weimar cabaret for nearly a century?

While the end of World War I brought jubilation to the victorious Allies, there were thinkers throughout Europe who felt a continuing uneasiness, and there have been any number of commentators since who see not two world wars, but one continuing war (1918-1939) with a brief gap of 20 years in the middle.

Many German artists experienced the Great War and its effects at first hand and much of their writing, poetry, visual art and drama reflect this. The so-called Weimar Republic (1919-1933) emerged from Germany’s 1918/19 revolution, and while there were continuing rumblings beneath the surface, the relief attending the end of the war allowed a certain frivolity to come out on top. This was referred to as “Dancing on the Volcano”, the title of my recital at this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Robyn Archer in  Tonight Lola Blau

Beginning with a couple of Bertolt Brecht’s early songs, for which he also wrote the music (or borrowed popular tunes) and accompanied himself on guitar, and followed with songs by Frank Wedekind (whom...