Note: This review is from the 2016 Fringe

Inspired by David Bowie, Dutch-German Sven Ratzke brings his cabaret-come-rock show to Edinburgh. For those hoping for a tribute show to the great singer, this won’t deliver but it’s a mildly entertaining hour of a cabaret from Ratzke releasing his inner Bowie, with some rather fabulous outfits, akin to the great showman.

Ratzke transcends all conventional preconceptions of a David Bowie tribute show. It’s a difficult show to follow as he takes his audience on an Alice in Wonderland like trip on acid. In fact he slips up on some of his banter and blames it on taking the drug before the show. You almost believe it’s true.

Ratzke creates his own character and story of an earthbound alien who has fallen through space and time to arrive in London in the late 1960s. He channels a cast of characters ranging from a salivating Andy Warhol to the fictional French chauffeur of Elizabeth Taylor. He draws in some of the audience with this, and indeed raises a few laugh but there’s not much sense to it. Unsuspecting audience members, including the bald headed Tim, become part of his script.

With a talented band of just piano, bass and drums as the Spiders from Mars, the list of Bowie songs presented include Rebel Rebel, Space Oddity, and Heroes, to name a few but he adds his own take to them. There are two original songs by Ratzke and collaborator Rachelle Garniez, including the opening number which is actually called Rock ‘n Roll Sandman.

At times, when he loses the banter, there are elements of genius. His rendition of Life on Mars is particularly haunting but the moment becomes somewhat lost as he demands a certain atmospheric lighting change from the LX operator before he will start singing.

A surreal show, Starman is most definitely NOT a Bowie tribute show. Instead it’s a Ratzke show with re-intepretations of his beautiful music, told in cabaret style, by a talented , quirky entertainer from another planet.