Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2605

Fascists can’t sing—banned songs a hit at Gate Theatre

This article is over 5 years, 9 months old
A new musical collaboration between a west London theatre and the English National Opera sticks two fingers up to the Nazis, says Jasmine Fischer
Issue 2605
Phik Cornwell in Effigies of Wickedness
Phik Cornwell in Effigies of Wickedness (Pic: Gate Theatre)

Effigies of Wickedness brings together a wide range of influences from cabaret, musical theatre and opera into one hugely entertaining show.

It features songs from 1920 to 1939 that were banned by the Nazis.

It is the first collaboration—hopefully of many—between the English National Opera and the Gate Theatre in north London.

A combination of the relaxed cabaret atmosphere, amazing voices, witty audience interaction, incredible costume designs and the strong anti-Nazi theme draws you in from beginning to end.

Through the performance of songs that the Nazis banned, the audience gets taken on a journey through a tumultuous and tragic period.

It begins in 1920 during a revolutionary period which had created an exciting atmosphere that anything was possible.

It ends in 1939 when the Nazis were in power and democracy had been smashed.

This performance is a look back at a time when the underground scene was full of artists such as playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht and composer and painter Arnold Schoenberg.


But this isn’t a show that simply reflects the past.

The themes throughout are still very relevant as many of these struggles continue today.

Lucy McCormick brilliantly performs Brecht and Hans Eisler’s song Paragraph 218 (Abortion is Illegal).

We are reminded that the slogan, “My body, my choice” is far from a historical observation. Thousands of women are fighting to repeal the

8th Amendment in Ireland, which criminalises abortion.

Another stand out performer is Le Gateau Chocolat, whose incredible voice almost moved me to tears at one point.

Their song was penned by an artist who was able to use it as a “ticket out of Germany” during a period when the Nazis had banned black people from working.

Today far right and fascist organisations such as the AfD in Germany, the Front National in France and the Freedom Party in Austria continue to grow and get huge votes. This serves as an important reminder to say “never again” and why we must continue to challenge the far-right.

I immediately wanted to go back and watch it again.

If you hate Nazis and love a good cabaret—and even if you’re indifferent about cabaret—go and see this show.

For information and tickets go to

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance