I loved Devon More’s preview to her one-woman show, Berlin Waltz, at the Fringe Opening Night, so I decided to see it.
I enjoyed many aspects of this work: the archival film playing in the background (particularly when I saw familiar frames), the xylophone, More’s energy, the sock puppets. Some parts were fascinating, like the conversations with Angelica, a native of the old East Germany, as reported and interpreted by More, who became a bartender when she went to Berlin a few years ago.
More conveys her fascination with the city, but most of the play is essentially a documentary about the Wall, and her bicycle trip along its old path. I’ve been to Berlin a couple times, have read lots about this subject, and was alive when the Wall came down, so not much of the documentary was new to me. On the other hand, speaking to a younger person, she was unaware of much of the history of the Wall, and she did learn from the play, but would have actually preferred a straight documentary rather than this impressionistic version.
Berlin itself as a decadent, dangerous, and intoxicating character is well-known from works like Cabaret, although that long precedes the Wall. More describes her fascination and intoxication with Berlin, which is what I would have liked to hear more about, rather than about the Wall itself.
It isn’t fair, but I couldn’t help but think about what wasn’t mentioned. For example, the Berlin airlifts when the Soviet Union blockaded the city, and David Bowie’s 1987 concert a the Wall. But there’s no way to mention everything about this complex subject. The attempts to link the Wall to contemporary current events were brief and facile; another play might be built with a more careful examination of that subject.
If you haven’t been to Berlin, maybe this play will encourage you to go.
Until September 18, at the Cultch Historic Theatre: https://tickets.vancouverfringe.com/shows/berlin%20waltz/events