Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Berlin: the Time of My Life

After Checkpoint Charlie, I decided to visit the Sony Centre – it's a complex highlighted by our tour guide as a wonderful shopping centre filled with stores and restaurants etc. It had many restaurants, but only two or three shops that I could see, and a multiplex cinema. After a quick lunch (a kangaroo wrap from the local Aussie bar), I lazily strolled into the cinema to see what was showing, and when I saw that Inglourious Basterds was on (Tarantino's latest flick – Brad Pitt becomes a Nazi hunter), I couldn't stop myself – so I bought a ticket and sat down to watch what was an excellent film about World War II. In Berlin.

I took comfort in the fact that there were other Germans in the audience, and they must have liked it because we all clapped at the end of the film. Unless that's just a German tradition. I don't really know – German traditions are still strange to me. Like standing on a platform while a train is boarding, only to panic and run onto a train just before the doors shut. Or their bizarre ability to know that I'm a tourist and greet me with "Hello, can I help you?" instead of "Guten Tag" – though when the latter has happened my confusion puts them straight back into the former. There are also a lot of gypsies here too – they approach you and say "Do you speak English?" and if you say yes then they pass you a card which begs you for money. If you make eye contact it's almost as though you've made them a promise that you'll help fund their kids' violin lessons. I'd almost be inclined to give them some money if there weren't so many of them all with the same cards – it's possible to be approached by 10 different people in one day. Weird.

After the movie, I was walking down Marlene Dietrich Platz and saw a giant billboard.

How could I not go to this? Sure, it was in German, but I'm in Germany, and though it had been many years since I had seen the show I was certain that I'd be able to pick up the story easily enough. So I went to the theatre and sweet-talked my way into a super cheap (well, 'Euro Cheap' at least) ticket right in the middle of the theater – possibly the best seats in the house. The show itself was exactly how it was billed – das original live on stage. In other words, it was the movie acted out a little more believably. Here's the plot as I picked it up:

Baby couldn't dance. Baby wanted to learn to dance for the talent show at a health farm (scientology retreat?) that her parents went to, and got Jonny Carson to help her learn. Then Penny (a friend of Jonny's) got pregnant and had an abortion to some guy named Robbie; a prime douche-bag in a tux. Penny's abortion went wrong and it affected her acting. Baby got her dad, who's a doctor, to look at her, and he gave her an injection which didn't really improve her acting but at least shut her up a little. This made Jonny take his shirt off. Baby's dad got mad and stormed out, and so Jonny and Baby have sex a lot. The sex isn't good so Jonny leaves town only to return in time for the talent quest, taking Baby out of the corner, and they dance a lot and have many encores. It's basically like Shakespeare, but with better dancing.

I actually thoroughly enjoyed it, and as you can see from my summary above, not speaking the language wasn't much of an impediment to seeing good theatre.

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