Glitzy burlesque, and utter SHEER MADNESS!

Sheer Madness or Der Helle Wahnsinn. Photo@ R.Pater
Sheer Madness or Der Helle Wahnsinn.
Photo@ R.Pater

My goodness, what a lovely summer we’re having. The weather is glorious and Berliners are out and about.

July was so much fun. I went to Berlin Fashion Week Yay!

I got my first ever press pass and I have to tell you like, if you’re ever going to dance the night away, you’ve got to totally do it in Berlin!

Last week, my husbandThe Music Producer and I went to a music, variety, show, and venue called the Wintergarten Varieté Berlin. If you recall in May, I pretty much went to the last showing of Breakin’ Mozart. The performance was so popular that they’re bringing the production back again in 2015!

I had such a good time that I asked to watch the latest production of the Wintergarten Varieté Berlin called: SHEER MADNESS or (in German), Der Helle Wahnsinn.

Going bonkers at Sheer Madness or Der Helle Wahnsinn. Photo@ R.Pater
Going bonkers at Sheer Madness or Der Helle Wahnsinn.
Photo@ R.Pater

Utter Sheer Madness!

WHAT’S THE WINTERGARTEN VARIETÉ BERLIN or SIMPLY WINTERGARTEN BERLIN?

 A vintage Berlin 1940's advertisement poster.
A vintage Berlin 1940’s advertisement poster.

Well, the Wintergarten Varieté Berlin is a venue that was considered one of the stage entertainment places to be, between 1887 and 1943.

Today, the Wintergarten Varieté Berlin is now a large variety theatre and located in a different part of Berlin known as Schöneberg. Schöneberg is a stylish, leafy suburb with boulevards and open-air markets.

Schöneberg also happens to be Berlin’s popular centre of gay life and community, where Christopher Isherwood (the inspiration of both the musical and the film “Cabaret”), once used to live, and where Marlene Dietrich used to frequent the legendary “El Dorado” bar.

 Sara Bowden showing her true colours at Sheer Madness. photo@ Robert Pater

Sara Bowden showing her true colours at Sheer Madness.
photo@ Robert Pater

But I digress. I mean SHEER MADNESS?

Berlin is no stranger to “the other” and in fact, you only have to walk around for a few hours to realise that we’re all pretty weird around here, and completely bonkers. In fact, someone once brought a pony onto the train a few years ago.

A pony!

We’ve also had a pack of dogs that looked suspiciously like a pack of wolves.

On. The. Train!

Last winter, The Music Producer and I went to the student-filled suburb of Friedrichshain on the tram, and practically everyone on the tram (even though it’s technically illegal), had a bottle of beer in their hands. One guy even had a glass too and was pouring it in a very relaxed manner! I myself, have walked into one of Europe’s oldest luxury hotel groups: the prestigeous Hotel Adlon Kempinski with bare feet, hair all astray, and make-up stuck to the side of my mouth!

So what’s it all about?

We're not crazy. You are! Photo@ R.Pater
We’re not crazy. You are! Photo@ R.Pater

WHAT IS SHEER MADNESS?

SHEER MADNESS or (in German), Der Helle Wahnsinn is a glitzy, burlesque, artistic show. A blend of acrobatics, dance and live music, never seen before. The show is about the bright imagination of a glitzy and flamboyant gay man called Herbert Maria Freiherr von Heymann, who shortly after World War II,  was committed for “healing purposes,” to a madhouse.

WHAT DOES SHEER MADNESS MEAN?

Well, according to my huge Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus, madness can be defined as “insanity, lunacy, extreme anger, excitement, foolishness, or rabies!”

Yeah, that sounds pretty much like a large number of people who live in Berlin, and I’d say that I was extremely sane!

The story goes that when Herbert Maria Freiherr von Heymann arrives at the madhouse, he meets a large number of people bordering on the weird, to the utter insane.

Rummelsnuff as "Hans the Wave" showing his stuff at Sheer Madness. Don't you think he looks like Popeye with the pipe, muscles, and everything?!! Photo@ Robert Pater
Rummelsnuff as “Hans the Wave” showing his stuff at Sheer Madness. Don’t you think he looks like Popeye with the pipe, muscles, and everything?! Photo@ Robert Pater

He meets “Hans the Wave”, a former sailor who loves athletic sports, sailor songs, and lives in a world of his own.

He meets a beautiful woman who has exciting exhibitionist fits and who believes that she is the white Josephine Baker.

Some of the cast and Florian Zumkehr as "Karl the Knife" at Sheer Madness. Photo@ R.Pater
Some of the cast and Florian Zumkehr as “Karl the Knife” at Sheer Madness. Photo@ R.Pater

He meets “Karl the Knife” who is so dangerous and unpredictable, that he is permanently kept in a straitjacket because he is alleged to be a stabbing serial killer.

He meets “Kling” who doesn’t talk, but is nevertheless very communicative with his body percussion sounds.

“Somalso” is a schizophrenic woman who believes she is in a variety of different bodies.

“Sarotti,” the son of a German mother and a Moroccan father and by definition, already mad. By virtue of his birth!

The strange Collins Brothers at Sheer Madness. Photos@ R.Pater
The strange Collins Brothers at Sheer Madness.
Photos@ R.Pater

The Collins Brother, a crazy sibling set of two brothers, who try to perform magical acts.

And finally, there is the Tzigane boy-girl “Punka” – a young man who always wears girl clothing, and hardly talks.

These “mad” people live a miserable existence in the asylum, left alone with their hallucinations, fantasies, and stories. This changes however, when Herbert Maria Freiherr von Heymann joins them.

It was impossible to knock the humour, sarcasm, and joy of living, out of him. In fact, the asylum was just what he needed.

An audience!

David Pereira as "Punka" in Sheer Madness. Photo@ R. Pater
David Pereira as “Punka” in Sheer Madness.
Photo@ R. Pater

I won’t tell you anything more except that the songs were written by a British friend of ours – Jack Woodhead –  who also performs the role of Herbert Maria Freiherr von Heymann. He’s just as eccentric as I am, if not more so! And the boy-girl “Punka” was played by the rather gorgeous Spanish acrobatic artist – David Pereira.

DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND GERMAN TO WATCH IT?

Not reaLLy.

Most of the songs which are written by Jack Woodhead and David Pereira, are sung in English. The general script is in German but the action surrounding the show, can be understood! The show is very suitable for an international audience but perhaps not for very young children, who might wonder why the girls keep lifting up their dresses and showing their knickers!

ANYTHING ELSE?

The show ends on October 5th, 2014 and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so if you want to watch it (what with the holidays n’ all), now’s probably the time!

Jack Woodhead at Sheer Madness: A man who can wear heels! Photo@ R.Pater
Jack Woodhead at Sheer Madness: A man who can wear heels!
Photo@ R.Pater

MY VERDICT?

A colourful show full of utter sheer madness, and laughter.

I love a man who can wear heels as well as I can!

Jack Woodhead with a lovely pair of silver, sparkly shoes that I want! Photo@Jack woodhead.
Jack Woodhead with a lovely pair of silver, sparkly shoes that I want!
Photo@Jack woodhead.

SHEER MADNESS is an intriguing story of screaming people, clothes gone awry, and people gone mad. The songs are a reflection of times gone by, freedom, and heartfelt songs of hope!

The show is a performance of acrobatic twists and turns, erotic ballet, tap-dancing on tables and beds, a schizophrenic girl who thinks she’s Hitler or perhaps the Queen, and a mad girl with huge circular hoops, strapped onto an operating chair!

If you like glitzy burlesque, innovative but intriguing lyrics, combined with first class acrobatics, performed by fit, attractive, people then you’ll love SHEER MADNESS at the Wintergarten Varieté Berlin. SHEER MADNESS is a show worth going to, while you are in Berlin!

David Pereira as "Punka" and Ashia Grzesik as "Sister Hildegard" in Sheer Madness. Photo@ Robert Pater.
David Pereira as “Punka” and Ashia Grzesik as “Sister Hildegard” in Sheer Madness.
Photo@ Robert Pater.

Because you can:

  • Be extremely close to a cast of gorgeous, freaky, people (depending on your ticket), as pretty much every seating comes with tables, so that you can eat and drink to your hearts’ delight.
  • See a Burlesque strip-tease.
  • See a paper-eating-acrobatic-maniac stand on an enormous pile of books, on a grand piano, and at the same time, play a guitar!
  • Watch a tightrope artist.
  • Watch a magical disappearing act!
  • Come early, hang out with the uniformed doormen, and have your photo taken by the theatre’s professional photographer for only €5.00.

A Justin-Timberlake look-alike who can tap dance, a pretty young woman doing a burlesque strip-tease, gorgeous sexy erotic acrobatic performers who can dance and sing. What’s not to like?

A brilliant show.

Berlin in the 1920's. © Deutsches Plakat Museum im Museum Folkwang, 2012
Berlin in the 1920’s.
© Deutsches Plakat Museum im Museum Folkwang, 2012

WHAT IF SHEER MADNESS ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

Not to worry. Berlin is a capital city. There is always more to see, and something else to do. Keep reading my blog. More coming soon!

SHEER MADNESS runs until the 5th of October, 2014 so get your tickets soon!

Tickets for SHEER MADNESS in Berlin are from €24.50 for adults and reduced for children, students, and groups. ShowCafe €27.00 or for families €95.00 for 4 people including tea, coffee and cake! Tickets can be bought online here.

Approximate running time: About 2 hours.

For more information about the show please contact: SHEER MADNESS.

For more information about the venue please contact: Wintergarten Varieté Berlin.

Burlesque Night by Joanne Claxton. Courtesy of fineartamerica.com
Burlesque Night by Joanne Claxton.
Courtesy of fineartamerica.com

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a complimentary ticket, all opinions and the glittering glasses of champagne and fancy beer that I happily drank, are my very own!

August is a new month, I’ll be writing about summer time activities in Berlin, and what to do when you get here.

August will also be the month when I look back on some of the blog awards that I received and which I never got to write about, due to the marvellous, in the moment, lifestyle that I have LOL!

August and September will also bring a few surprises that I’m sure that you’ll love. One of them is the Berlin Music Week Festival which both The Music Producer and I are extremely excited about LOL! The other surprises, you’ll have to wait until the end of August or early September to find out, so stay on my blog!

This city is the bomb!

Are you coming?

Watch this space!

Not far from home. In Berlin. Madness personified!
Not far from home. In Berlin. Madness personified!

On a last note, don’t forget to check out the Commonwealth Games taking place in Glasgow, Scotland. Great things are happening!

David Pereira and Jack Woodhead keeping it together, at Sheer Madness. Photo@ Robert Pater
David Pereira and Jack Woodhead keeping it together, at Sheer Madness. Photo@ Robert Pater

Have you been to a glitzy burlesque show? Would you describe yourself as mad, foolish, or excited? Have you ever had rabies?!

See you in Berlin.

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An extraordinary brain and a frightening story: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; at a Berlin cinema near you!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

What a summer.

There’s just so much to do in the wonderful city of Berlin. It’s still June and this month has been fantastically exciting. At the beginning of the month, I introduced you to the hip-hop, break-dancing fun of Mozart, I watched the hilarious stand-up performance of Bill Bailey and also did my first interview with a tall, lanky, German, English-speaking, comedian! I then went all glamorous and did my first press stint at the it’s so-hip-it-hurts Berlin Music Video Awards. After that, it was only a matter of time before your fabulousness and mine could be hidden no further, at the summer festivals that the city of Berlin organises for free!

Wow!

In May, I began to introduce you to all the lovely things that you could do in Berlin without the worry of understanding the very intellectual, but grammatically difficult, language of German. One of those activities was the rather wonderful Shakespeare production of death and destruction in the body of King Lear.

As I recall, I told you that Berlin is lucky to be one of the designated cities to have original productions broadcasted by the English Royal National Theatre. Live. What this means is that you don’t have to go to London to watch these productions and pay through your nose, but you can relax and watch them from the comfy seat of a world-class cinema, instead.

The Royal English National Theatre.
The Royal English National Theatre.

Last month, I received a ticket from one of Berlin’s very few cinemas in which you can watch original English Language films. The cinema is called: CineStar Berlin – Original. im Sony Center.

You can watch Hollywood blockbusters, Oscar nominated films, the English Royal Opera Live and live productions from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Isn’t that brilliant? It’s the cinema that I go to the most and a few weeks ago I chose to watch the National Theatre Live production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

The Curious Incident Original West End cast. Photos: Brinkoff and Mogenburg.
The Curious Incident Original West End cast.
Photos: Brinkoff and Mogenburg.

 WHAT’S THE NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE?

The National Theatre Live is an exciting initiative to broadcast live performances of the best of British theatre to cinemas in Britain and around the world. Launched in 2009, the National Theatre Live is shown in over 700 cinemas, in 22 countries all around the world. So far, I’ve personally seen three (3) productions. One (1) production starring John Lithgow in The Magistrate which was awesome, the second (2nd) production starring Helen Mirren in The Audience which was fabulous, and the third (3rd) production in King Lear which was amazing.

The Curious Incident Original West End Cast. Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg
The Curious Incident Original West End Cast.
Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg

WHAT IS THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME ABOUT?

Well, the play is based on the award-winning novel of Mark Haddon, adapted by Simon Stephens, and directed by Marianne Elliott. The book was originally published in 2003, and was the winner of more than seventeen (17) literary awards, including prizes in Japan, Holland and Italy, as well as the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in Britain, in 2004.

I remember the book being the darling of the literary world at the time, so if you haven’t read it, perhaps you should.

The stage production won seven (7) 2013 Olivier Awards including Best New Play, and has been hailed by The Times as ‘a phenomenal combination of storytelling and spectacle.’

The Curious Incident Original West End Cast. Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg
The Curious Incident Original West End Cast.
Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg

WHAT ELSE?

The story is about a young 15-year-old boy called Christopher who discovers that his neighbours dog (Wellington), is dead. It has been speared with a garden fork, and Christopher himself, is under suspicion, as to killing the dog.

Christopher records each fact in the book he is writing, to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington.

He has an extraordinary brain, is exceptional at maths but is terribly ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched, and he distrusts strangers. But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.

The Curious Incident Original West End Cast. Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg
The Curious Incident Original West End Cast.
Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg

DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND REALLY GOOD ENGLISH TO WATCH IT?

Yes and No!

Yes, because it’s the theatre sweetie.

No, because you don’t need to get the words in order to understand the play. It’s pretty plain and what is a theatre production, if the actors don’t jump around, sway, and cry in a flood of tears? Without giving too much away: young Christopher goes alone on a very long journey, and meets interesting characters in the big and dangerous city.

The Curious Incident Original West End Cast. Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg
The Curious Incident Original West End Cast.
Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg

DO I “KNOW” ANYONE?

You might not know Luke Treadaway who plays Christopher the 15-year-old boy who has a unique perspective on the world, Niamh Cusack who plays Siobhan, Christopher’s favourite teacher, or Paul Ritter who plays Ed, Christopher’s father, but I bet you are familiar with the actor Una Stubbs.

The Curious Incident Rehearsal of Una Stubbs playing Mrs Alexander. Photo: Manuel Harlan.
The Curious Incident Rehearsal of Una Stubbs playing Mrs Alexander.
Photo: Manuel Harlan.

UNA STUBBS: Una plays Mrs Alexander an older woman living in Christopher and Ed’s street, who seems to know all the neighbourhood gossip. Una can be seen in such productions as Worzel Gummidge (1979-81) and (1987-89), The Catherine Tate Show (2005), Eastenders (2006), and of course famously known as Mrs. Hudson: the landlady of 221B Baker Street in the BBC 1 production of Sherlock (2010- ).

The Curious Incident Original West End Cast. Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg
The Curious Incident Original West End Cast.
Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg

MY VERDICT?

Sad and thought-provoking! I might be biased here but a British theatre production will never let you down!

Watching the theatre in a cinema setting is as good as being at the theatre itself. Whoever coughed up that idea is a clever fellow. Because you can:

  • Watch a theatre production in the comfort of (depending on your ticket), a luxury seat.
  • Wear whatever you want without the worry of being over or under-dressed although I personally dressed up. It’s ingrained in our soul!
  • Sit together as a group of 3 or a group of 20.
  • If you’re really squeezed, you can stretch and walk around in the stairway of the cinema. Somehow, I don’t see that happening in a “real” theatre.
  • You can bring your popcorn and beer into your seat but for more authenticity, buy champagne or wine, and brand bottles and glasses about like I did. It’s the theatre sweetie!!
  • Most importantly, quality theatre of the best actors on the British stage for only €18.00, in your own home-town or nearby!
The Curious Incident Original West End Cast. Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg
The Curious Incident Original West End Cast.
Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg

WHAT IF THIS PERFORMANCE REALLY ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

Not to worry. There are more productions coming up that can be seen at the Cinestar Berlin – Original such as:

A Small Family Business by Alan Ayckbourn coming up in Berlin on 03.07.14.

Tickets for the National Theatre Live in Berlin are €18.00 for adults and €13.00 for children and can be bought online here. A wonderful bargain

Approximate running time: 2 hours 40 minutes, including a 20 minute interval.

For more information about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, please contact: The National Theatre Live.

For more information about Original English films or productions in Berlin, please contact: CineStar Berlin – Original.

The Curious Incident Original West End Cast. Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg
The Curious Incident Original West End Cast.
Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a complimentary ticket, all opinions and the bottles of chilled wine I quaffed, are my very own! Every week for the months of May and June, I’ll be writing about summer time in Berlin, and what to do when you get here.

In the next few weeks, I will be writing about the exciting world of fashion, river cruising, and just having a jolly good time.

In case, you didn’t know, and surely you did! Berlin Fashion Week is taking place 08.07.14 – 13.07.14. I’m going. Hurrah!

Be there or be square! Or on the other hand, read my blog. July is going to be amazing.

Are you coming?

Watch this space!

In pain. The Curious Incident Original West End Cast. Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg
In pain.
The Curious Incident Original West End Cast.
Photo: Brinkoff and Mogenburg

Have you watched a National Theatre Live production? Have you ever read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time? Do you know Sherlock?

Are you coming for the summer?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post.

Share it! Tweet it! Like it!

10 things to do RIGHT NOW instead of getting all upset about that post: “23 things to do instead of getting engaged before you’re 23!”

10 things to do RIGHT NOW instead of getting all upset about that post: "23 things to do instead of getting engaged before you're 23!"
10 things to do RIGHT NOW instead of getting all upset about that post: “23 things to do instead of getting engaged before you’re 23!”

OK everyone, I know I promised you a write-up on my second award but there’s a post that has recently been going around the internet and I just couldn’t resist. If you haven’t seen it, where have you been?

The post is called 23 things to do instead of getting engaged before you’re 23 and that post has gone viral so it must have touched a nerve. It also got quite a bashing from thousands of people and their cat, lots of people heated and up in arms. All putting forward their opinion as the young writer was young, female and American….

23 things to do instead of getting engaged before you're 23!
23 things to do instead of getting engaged before you’re 23!

One lady counter-wrote My first blog: the result of a close minded 23-year-old, another lady wrote 24 things to do instead of getting married before you’re 24: a response. Or this one don’t tell me what to do, and another still, 23 things NOT to do before you get engaged (or ever)!

My goodness. If we were in the Middle Ages, the writer (Vanessa), would have been dragged by her hair and burnt at the stake!

But what did she write about? Basically, she said: live a little! Other people read it as against marriage, love, people and life.

It’s a good article, well written, and got people thinking, and isn’t that what writing is about?

Ah well, I might as well get on the bandwagon. Why not?

So, here goes:

Here are my 10 things to do RIGHT NOW instead of getting all upset!

Here are my 10 things to do RIGHT NOW instead of getting all upset!
Here are my 10 things to do RIGHT NOW instead of getting all upset!

1.   Read my blog:  Most specifically, my inspiration posts. Stop worrying about other people and get out there and do stuff!

2.   Write your own blog: For goodness sake, if you don’t like what you’re reading, get online and write your own blog instead of bashing somebody else’s. The world is so huge and there is room for all of us to have “a voice.”

3.   Leave the country and then come back: Travel widens your perspective and gives you another view of the world. It can also make you either leave your homeland forever or appreciate it all the more.

4.   Learn another language: Thank goodness I speak German as well as my native English. I also understand very basic Czech and Polish. Very basic. I can also get by when I read a bit of Dutch. What languages do YOU speak, understand or can get away with? Get a move on!

5.   Take up a new hobby: It’s a New Year. Learn to paint, sing, cook, play an instrument or simply make something with your own hands.

6.   Go back to school: Update your skills and knowledge. The world is turning. Don’t get left behind. If you’ve got a Bachelors, get a Masters. if you’ve got a Masters then there’s nothing stopping you from getting a Doctorate. If you’re not that skilled or versed in something, go to a class and improve. Get better. Get skilled.

7.   Read a book: Read a real book. A book that smells and has pages made of paper. I have a kindle and an iPhone but I still believe that real books have value as do the bookshops that sell them. Read whatever book you like. Fantasy or Non-Fiction. Poetry or Historical. Just keep reading.

8.   Switch off: For a day, a week, a month. Switch off your phone, laptop, computer, video, game console, or TV. Learn to wake up, smell the roses, go for a walk and talk to people physically in front of you.

9.   Hug a random stranger then walk away: If David Cameron (the British Prime Minister) can “hug a hoodie” so can you. O.K. perhaps not a hooded thug, but someone that you see who would probably appreciate the warmth acknowledgment of “you’re not alone in this world.”

10.   Explore your sexuality: There I said it. SEX. If you’re an adult. Yes. You. Can!

Thinking about life 'cos you have choices.
Thinking about life ‘cos you have choices.

One last point:

I can really see why that post hit a nerve and got lots of people very upset but I’m not 23, far from it. I’m what you call an older mother or in Britain, a “yummy mummy.” I love my husband. I’m happily married, and I like being a professional mother and career woman.

I personally wouldn’t encourage or advocate young women to settle down early, but you know what, I’m not the Prime-Minister, so it doesn’t matter what I think!

I live in Germany. We can all choose our lifestyle.
I live in Germany.
We can all choose our lifestyle.

I live in Germany. There is plenty for young women to do or not to do, BUT our mothers fought for our right to CHOOSE. In that wise, if anyone. ANYONE, male or female, decide to “settle” or “settle down,” that’s their choice too. There are many advantages to living in Europe.

We’re liberal.

We can choose without eyebrows raising.

We can marry or not marry.

Be single or in a relationship.

Be committed or be free-loving.

Have a lover or have a million lovers.

Be gay, straight, bi-sexual or transsexual.

Have children or have none.

And isn’t that the point?

CHOICE.

Have your say!

and then We Were Three.
and then We Were Three.

What do you think? How about writing your own blog? Which point do you like best?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com