Lust in Translation: a tongue

Lust in Translation: a tongue twisting ‘taal’ tango

Aletia Upstairs and Sertan Sanderson teamed up to create Lust in Translation, a multilingual cabaret inspired by their mutual love of languages.

Lust in Translation: a tongue

London venue Downstairs at Sergios hosted seasoned entertainers Sertan Sanderson and Aletia Upstairs, who teamed up to create Lust in Translation, a multilingual cabaret inspired by their mutual love of languages.

Between them they performed a selection of love songs in eight languages: Turkish, English, German, French, Italian, Afrikaans, Spanish and Portuguese. These included classics such as ‘Let’s Fall In Love’, ‘Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps’  (Quando Quando Quando), and ‘Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off’ as well as the quirkier but less well-known ‘I speak Six Languages’ and ‘Masochism Tango’.

The audience certainly seemed to enjoy the evening (although the wine may have assisted). Highlights of the show were the empowering French duet that left everyone in the audience feeling truly French thanks to the many French phrases used in English, and Aletia’s hilariously deadpan and deliberately tuneless Marlene Dietrich impression in the ‘German Song’.

In fact, both Aletia and Sertan are great mimics and could have capitalised on this by incorporating more impressions in the production.

Aletia’s rendition of ‘Moenie Weggaan Nie’, Laurika Rauch’s version of the cabaret standard, added a welcome injection of ‘home’ to the international flavour of the cabaret, while Sertan mocked his own multicultural credentials (Turkish, German, American and South African) as he persistently poked fun at several nationalities. This running gag had the potential to become the central theme of the show, with the audience ultimately wondering if there was anywhere he wasn’t from.

Aletia could in turn make more of her characterisation as comparative ‘language novice’ yet remarkably astute learner.

Lust in Translation was a great concept that could be a showstopper with a bit more polish (or maybe some Polish?).

For a start, it would have flowed better with a stronger narrative — as it was, the dialogue linking the songs was somewhat weak and the two characters not well defined — they seemed to switch between personas and themselves, while the nature of their onstage relationship was not clear.

Aletia and Sertan are clearly accomplished singers but I found their vocals lacking at times. Perhaps because some of the songs they chose were not properly suited to their vocal strengths, a tendency to shout produced some flat notes.

I recognise that the beauty of cabaret, or of any art for that matter, is that it’s often a work in progress. At some points in the show it felt like I was watching a workshopped rehearsal rather than a fully-fledged production, but somehow this made it charmingly intimate, as if we were privy to the development of something wonderful.

The only thing that irked me was Sergios’ £10 cover charge on top of being obliged to buy a not inexpensive yet hardly gourmet meal.