Beyond its title song’s intimations of a mindless good time — “It’s time for a holiday,” the lyrics promise, so “start celebrating, right this way!” — “Cabaret” is actually a pretty in-your-face play.
And now Ion Theatre is about to stage the tuneful but subversive 1966 musical in an in-your-face way: As an immersive and highly intimate show at the Hillcrest company’s cozy BLKBOX space.
It’s an interesting time for any theater to be producing the work about a seedy 1930 Berlin nightclub where patrons and performers drink, carouse and do the best they can to ignore the growing Nazi menace.
This year has seen a rise in nationalist sentiments in the U.S. and around the world, sparking spates of violence such as the one that killed a young woman during rallies by neo-Nazis and others in Charlottesville, Va.
It’s a subject that goes to the heart of “Cabaret”: The seemingly innocuous song “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” which at first comes off as a kind of patriotic German folk ode, takes on much more ominous tones late in the piece, as Jews begin to face persecution and neighbor turns against neighbor.