Mark Nadler - I’m A Stranger Here Myself

Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Banquet Room. 13 Jun 2012

I’m a Mark Nadler tragic, having seen all four of his previous Adelaide Cabaret Festival shows.  Mark was as dapper as ever – elegantly dressed in a shiny silver suit adorned with a yellow rose and a pocket handkerchief, and a pearl tie pin.  He uncharacteristically began the show in a rough manner barging his way to the stage through the audience, standing up on a table, overturning a chair and belting out a rousing song fit for a closing number.  It seemed we all needed to recover from that and restart the show.

While Mark initially themed on wandering, he focused on a particular wandering – the diaspora of Jewish songwriting talent that flourished during the Weimar years and was forced from Germany by the National Socialists.  The songs stem from the 1920s to the 1940s, and ever the educator, Mark elaborates with skillful storytelling on the political and social background of the era, and often on individual songs. 

Kurt Weill was prominent and Mark demonstrated with a song catalogue how Weill readily absorbed the cultures of his host countries as he eventually settled in California after a transit period in France.  Highly detailed accounts of perilous emigration and the persecution of homosexuals – including an amazing song from the 1920s rebuking the harsh German anti-gay legislation – made the show as much documentary as musical.  It’s clear that this era has deep personal meaning to Mark and he had a poignant and emotional finish.  While I personally was unfamiliar with most the songs, the German at my table knew them all – he was a young adolescent during the war.

I’m A Stranger Here Myself is a highly crafted show with a tight schedule.  Mark is American sentimentalism at its best.  He loves the songs that he plays and he eulogises their creators.  The other tragics in the front row of tables gave him a standing ovation.                   

David Grybowski

When: 13 to 14 Jun
Where: The Banquet Room
Bookings: bass.net.au