★★★★★ Svensational journey of the imagination to a Bowie soundtrack.
Adelaide Festival Theatre
June 23, 2016
Created and performed prior to Bowie’s death, Starman is not a by the number tribute show. It’s far more substantial. Sven Ratzke honours Bowie, not by mimicking him, but by distilling Bowie’s boldness and fearlessness to create his own art.
Built like an Olympic volleyball player and dressed in a slinky one-piece covered (for a short time only) by a dazzling jacket, Ratzke imposed himself on the audience with his own rock and roll composition Rock ‘n’ Roll Sandman that could have passed easily for a Bowie song. However, from that point, the Star tour guide took the audience on a wild, exciting adventure. Like a puff of stardust that he could smell in our minds and after administering some Dutch kissing, Sven whisked us through a white hole to a disco where boy meets girl (Rebel Rebel) then to a ship of tattooed sailors bound for New York (Lady Grinning Soul) and then to New York itself and the rooftop of the Chelsea Hotel (Starman).
Accosted by a white rabbit resembling Andy Warhol (Time), we found ourselves back in the urban New York jungle (Space Oddity) before a rude French servant abducted us and took us to Elizabeth Taylor’s mansion full of wax dummies of child stars and that smelly dog Toto shitting wax turds (Life on Mars). And if all this wasn’t wild enough, Ratzke is also side-splitting funny for most of the journey as his hapless adopted brother from the audience James Ratzke and a woman referred to only as “Cleavage” discovered.
Vocally, Ratzke sounds like Bowie, but his interpretations of classics like Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide and Heroes were his own and complemented well by the band of Charly Zastrau on keyboards, Haye Jellema on drums and Florian Friedrich on Bass with their Euro techno sound. From the Taylor mansion, to West Berlin in 1977 and finally outer space, it all made no sense, but perfect Svense, cabaret at its finest.