Whilst Berlin is one of the most modern cities in the world it is also steeped in all manner of history, so if you’re looking for an ‘old skool’ fun night out you should probably check out the cabaret at the Wintergarden.
The Wintergarden is a pretty theatre with an interior that immediately transports visitors back to the heady and decadent days of the inter-war period when live entertainments were at their zenith. It’s also an opportunity to sit with friends and eat, chat and enjoy a glass of wine (or several) in a warm, relaxed atmosphere.
I should also say that the theatre is accessible from street level with disability friendly facilities and several tables positioned so that wheelchair users can wheel up to them. This, of course, is no bad thing since the way to really enjoy an evening at the cabaret is to let go of your anxiety and inhibitions (about facilities or indeed, the show itself) and allow yourself the guilty pleasure of laughing along with what is, frankly, an outrageous no holds barred performance.
Yes, it’s definitely time to leave the modern and very proper attitudes associated with today’s Berlin behind and instead, enter a world where political correctness is replaced with satire and sauciness. If you can do that, you’re guaranteed a rip-roaring, eye-opening experience.
Naturally, the fun really starts when diners finish the main course and the curtain goes up. The show I saw was gently anarchic with plenty of naughty but good-natured postcard humour. ‘Der helle Wahnsinn’ (‘Sheer Madness’) is set in an asylum where the patients decide to put together a variety performance (in the ‘Hey kids let’s do the show right here’ tradition) and so exercise their offbeat skills and humour. Whilst not exactly conservative in theme, the performers, who in their number include contortionists, acrobats, singers, musicians, jugglers and strongmen bring the unlikely story and disparate themes together very well. Incidentally, some of the songs were in English and there were also story prompts like narration cards from silent films projected on the theatre walls, so as not to lose any of the audience within the wacky tale. (The acting, in any case, is practically pantomimed and pretty hammed-up and it’d be difficult to lose the essential thread.)
As all this is happening, the quietly jolly staff shuffle from table to table taking orders from diners who by this point are well and truly ‘relaxed’ and content to laugh and clap and chant with the best of them.
It turns out that some stereotypes are true and some stereotypes are false. It’s false then that Germans don’t have a sense of humour – but that everything you’ve ever heard of about the notorious cabaret is absolutely true!
Visit: www.wintergarten-berlin.de (The page can be translated into English.)
For more information on ‘barrier free’ travel visit the German National Tourist Board website: www.germany.travel
NB: At the time of writing the (already accessible) facilities in the theatre were being refurbished. The Wintergarden website has useful contact information to help you plan your visit.