I couldn’t resist myself this week. I have been singing Cabaret showtunes ever since I saw Roundabout Theatre’s National Tour last weekend. Everything from ‘Willkommen,’ to ‘Mein Herr,’ to ‘Don’t Tell Mama’…I even re-wrote the lyrics to ‘Two Ladies’ so I could sing it around my kiddos. Now Anabelle joins in…”Deedlideelidee two babies! Deedlideelidee two babies! Deedlideelidee and I’m the only mom here!” Is that perverse? Re-constructing a song about a menage a trois to sing with my toddlers?
I don’t care! I love Cabaret. Not just any productions of Cabaret: It is THIS production of Cabaret that makes my dark little soul sing. Originally directed by Sam Mendes, the most recent Broadway revival of Cabaret, which is now touring the United states, perfectly captures the darkness, the decadence, the desperation, the sexiness of pre-WWII Berlin-and humanity. If there’s a stop near you left on the tour, you must see it. See it even if you don’t like the movie, which I will admit, I don’t much like myself. Keep reading to find out why this production is an absolute must-see that beats all the rest.
I have not been very happy this past year. Just over a year ago, on an innocuous evening in June, someone knocked on my door while I was in the bathroom. My husband answered, and accepted a packet that an unfamiliar layman was delivering for me. My world changed while I was taking a piss.
The packet was a lawsuit; a motion for genetic testing to establish paternity. Had I answered the door, I would have been able to identify the layman who’d delivered it to my home address as the father of the man who physically and sexually abused me for four years when I was a teenager. The paternity suit in the packet was legitimate; my abuser fathered my eldest child, though he had been uninvolved in my son’s life for almost as long as my son had been alive.
The parentage suit, which was quickly followed by a custody suit, threw my world into a darkness almost as deep and suffocating as the four years of our relationship. I had to recount, and then defend, the worst instances of my abuse. My abuser submitted intimate letters and photographs, which he had apparently kept in his possession for ten years, with the seeming sole purpose of humiliating me. I was obsessively fearful for my son’s safety, especially because he is a non-verbal autistic. My PTSD was aggressively aggravated, and my lowest shames were paraded before my abuser for his amusement and use. On top of that, my beloved Abuelita (grandmother) had died just a month earlier, and I was struggling to recover from my PTSD related suicide attempt. The past year has been a hell.
But this isn’t a post about hell. This isn’t a post about the custody case. This post is about the little pricks of light that shone through the darkness of the past year, sometimes impossibly so; those fervent, stubborn moments of happiness and joy that kept me dragging onward through the fight. This is a post about happiness that chose to exist beyond all odds. Dissident happiness.