Hochschule für Musik und Theater Leipzig. Summer Theatre: Sonnenallee

With summer, allegedly, just around the corner, the students of the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Leipzig have once again taken up residence in the courtyard of the GRASSI Museum complex for their annual summer theatre saeson.

Their 30th summer theatre season.

And one that covers a subject area that they couldn’t dare even consider in the first season – the realities of being a teenager in the DDR.

Adapted from Leander Haußmann and Thomas Brussig’s 1999 film of the same name, “Sonnenallee” is a tale of love, the loss of innocence and daily life in a bankrupt dictatorship.

Times comic, times serious the stage version of Sonnenallee is obviously a different beast from the film version and the “Leipzig version” has clearly been conceived with the idea of allowing the students to display their full range of skills.

Consequently the show is packed with not just acting but also dancing, acrobatics and singing; all songs, for example, being sung by the cast rather than being played back from tape.

Probably just as well given what happens to the one cassette that does feature in the piece.

We’re not theatre critics. And we’re certainly not going to pretend we are. That would be embarrassing.

But what we enjoyed about Sonnenallee was its lightness, its freshness, its accessibility and the genuine joy the cast we’re obviously having performing it.

We’re not sure all of those involved would even have been born when Berlin was still divided by a physical wall; certainly, none would have been of an age to have known the situations the characters in the play experience.

A fact that not only obviously separates them from key members of the original film cast but, for us, also gives the production a certain carefree lightness.

No-one is carrying any part of their past into the performance. None of the cast can remember what it was like to wait months for a telephone, always having to worry about Stasi agents or not having 50 West Mark for a Rolling Stones album.

And so they play the characters. Not their own experiences.

Which we think is the basis of what appealed to us.

That and the fact it that it genuinely made us laugh.

Sonnenallee runs from 29th June until July 13th and tickets are still available for some performances.

Full details and ticket information can be found at www.sommertheater-leipzig.com

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