Rio Reiser: The King of Germany

WiseMan put an entry into our joint calendar that just had dates and times on it - no inkling of what it was. We're going to Lübeck, he said. We'll stay with friends. The rest is a surprise. I tried to google what was going on in Lübeck that weekend, but didn't come up with much that would interest me. And no one would tell me, so I just showed up at the train station at the appointed hour.

It turned out to be tickets to see a play about Rio Reiser that was playing at the local theater, the Kammerspiele. Just what I need, provincial theater. Oh well, I do like Rio Reiser's songs, so I'm game.

What an amazing evening - the actors/singers put on a 3 hour show that included 17 songs from Reiser's many songs. The story is told of how the band grew up to be the protest song band in Germany in the 70s, how they had contact with the RAF and were rejected by them for being to decadent, how they fought about making money vs. just making music, how they fought about who slept with whom.

And also their seeking - what is the meaning of life, of love, of protest? We follow Reiser through alcohol and sex and drugs and fantastic music, until his untimely death at the age of 46. The actor playing Reiser, Andreas Hutzel,  was surpurb - he could sing, he gave a great impression of *being* Reiser. The drummer, Till Bauer, seemed to be a marvelous drummer who had taken some acting lessons, the last pieces - and the encore - were just tremendous. The guitarist (Henning Sembritzki) and the bass player (Susanne Höhne) were also good, but apparently actors who learned some music. Off on the sides a guy at at keyboard and many non-traditional instruments seemed to keep everything together.

One of the minor characters, playing a girl from Berlin, whipped out a bottle of sweet Lambrusco and lots of cups and passed them around. Oh. My. God. We used to drink Chianti and Lambrusco all the time, because they were the cheapest. Horrid stuff.

Many of the minor characters - the disapproving choir of good citizens, the New Age healer - brought back many, many memories of the 70s and 80s in Germany. They included Helmut Schmidt as a voice from the off and alluded the entire terrorist agony Germany went through - no idea if the young'uns in the audience got the references.

It was a wonderful play, has been in rep since 2009. And yes, it is worth taking a trip to Lübeck just to see this play!

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