Who is Eva von Schnippisch and what does she have to do with WWII? You might be forgiven for wondering if you’d fallen asleep one too many times in history class, but Stephanie Ware’s one-woman cabaret has very, very little to do with the actual affairs of WWII at all.
It’s an unashamedly salacious, nonsensical and hilarious tale of how a certain Eva von Schnippisch, a cabaret performer in Weimar Germany, gets recruited by the British Secret Service and ends up working her way to the very top of the Nazi Party. On the way, she goes on missions in France and Russia (cue comically bad French and Russian stereotypes). Sex inevitably saves the day! In France, she is working with the French resistance when their headquarters are raided. I’ll leave you to guess where she hid their smuggled radio, but it leads to music issuing from her nether regions… a great distraction while they grab the hapless German soldier and do unspeakable things to his body with a pair of curling tongs. In Russia, she falls in love with her target, the Russian colonel ‘Vladimir’, but alas – his very strange sexual fetish leads to her discovering the secret code tattooed on his body (in a very strange place) and she must leave to fulfil her duties. She is the best spy of the British intelligence, after all.
Nothing is taken too seriously here. As with any good cabaret, the aim is to shock, titillate and scandalise. Orgasms on stage! Blowjobs! Thongs! Hitler’s bunker reimagined as a sex dungeon! It could have been incredibly weird, but Ware pulls it off with aplomb. She has a great sense of audience and really knows how to play a crowd. Before we know it, we’re chanting ‘Ja, Eva, ja!’ and making airplane noises at her request. And she keeps it up even while she’s changing costumes – military hats, French berets, feather boas and Bavarian Lederhosen all make an appearance.
The quick-fire narrative is interrupted from time to time by comedic musical numbers, which Ware belts out in her surprisingly powerful singing voice. As for staging, it’s pared-down but perfectly timed. Simple backdrops, cabaret-style music and quick lighting changes. Who needs stage accessories when we have Eva? For a one-woman show, she certainly fills the stage. The 90 minutes whiz by as she takes us through her hurly-burly adventures, climaxing (pun not intended) in a love affair with Eva Braun that ends with her killing Hitler and, thus, winning WWII. A ridiculous, but ridiculously funny, evening.