Indefinite Leave To Remain

As the lights dim, the hushed silence that fell on the room is broken by the opening chords of the national anthem and the imposing figure of Hersh Dagmarr strolls towards the microphone stand in the centre of the room, a fur coat slouched across his shoulders and wearing a pair of Union Jack sunglasses. From the beginning it’s clear this won’t be a conventional cabaret performance.

The next hour and a half see’s Hersh take us on a journey to and from the Weimer Republic in 1930’s Berlin to the present day via Thatcher’s Britain, the famous bars and clubs of late 20th century Soho and more besides.

Taking the songs of the Pet Shop Boys as his vehicle, the show is interspersed with anecdotes, storytelling and humour. At times, Hersh channels Sally Bowles – his passion for the work of Isherwood is apparent – at other points there’s an uncanny resemblance to Hedwig (of Angry Inch fame).

This is no tribute act – Hersh’s powerful vocals give a new edge to familiar songs – from West End Girls to It’s A Sin by way of some less familiar numbers (including the title track as a powerful finale) throughout the show, I was mesmerised by the performance.

Karen Newby’s piano accompaniment was flawless – her arrangements breathing new life into familiar songs and delivering a concert hall gravitas to 80’s pop hits.

There is no prerequisite to be familiar with the work of the Pet Shop Boys to enjoy the show – it stands alone comfortably with the performers a delight to watch (with the possible exception of the table whose wine was consumed by Hersh mid-song towards the end of the show!)

The 90 minutes of the show flew by with a brief interval to catch your breath (and top up your glasses). Hersh and Karen remain in sync throughout the evening, never a missed cue or pause for breath, leaving the audience in anticipation at the next twist the tale of Hersh will take.

In conclusion, Indefinite Leave To Remain is a brilliant show performed by two very talented performers and well worth watching – it would be a sin to miss it!

This show was reviewed on the 22nd March 2024 at Bistrotheque’s Cockatoo, London.  You can check out Hersh and his upcoming shows here: hershdagmarr | Facebook | Linktree

Review written by Mike Stocks

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Photo credit: Dimitri Artmenko & Walt Schoen

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