It’s time to put a German back in charge – not as an homage to Hitler, but someone who is camp as Christmas, bursting with energy and quick wit. Someone who can do the splits, play piano & accordion and whip up a crowd into a fabulous frenzy – I bet Hitler couldn’t do all that. It’s Hans’ turn – Mein Camp is his cabaret guidebook version, his manifesto. We’d vote for him.
A revolution is happening tonight, it’s filled with glitter and sparkle and genuine, heart-warming comedy. Hans’ accent is tenuous at best, but that’s all part of the charm. Instantly the feeling in the room is one of acceptance and tolerance, a safe space where Hans can drag two young audience members onto stage, dress them up in drag and not have it feel embarrassing or awkward. At first, he picks a 16-year old boy – a quick backtrack to his brother keeps everything family friendly. There’s something a bit Butlins in this part, but only in the sense of community that Hans fosters between himself and the audience. It’s a testament to the performer when the audience participants feel comfortable enough to engage in a dance-off and romantic slow dance.
Mein Camp is bursting with a plethora of talent from the compère himself too. There is a Fascist-style remix of ‘My Favourite Things’, all minor chords and strong, staccato, fortissimo passages. There is a rework of Britney into ‘Hitler Baby One More Time’ mashed with ABBA’s ‘Money Money Money’ – the anthem to a capitalist society. It’s ingenious, it displays an understanding of musical form and an appreciation of comedic satire. It’s also full of quips at Hans’ expense, just another way to make the audience fall in love with him even more.
In the end, Mein Camp preaches a message entirely anti-Hitler – warm, caring and simply hoping for a better world. The Latin adage doesn’t apply here, “If you want peace, prepare for war”. Hans disagrees, opting for, “Violence only begets violence” instead. If you want peace here, you need some sparkly hot pants, a cheeky wink, a roomful of talent and the ability to laugh. Laugh at yourself and laugh with each other too. This we do in spades.
Hans: Mein Camp plays Underbelly Med Quad as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 until 28 August 2017. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the website.