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Golden age of Weimar Berlin comes to east London

Anais Alvarado and John Askew Anais Alvarado and John Askew

Tuesday, July 1, 2014
4:28 PM

An adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s autobiography is premiering at The Space in Westferry Road this week.

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Berlin recounts the writer’s move from the oppressive society of 1930s England to the sexual and intellectual liberation of Weimar era Berlin.

The story charts a golden age of freedom slowly descending into political unrest with the rise of the Nazi regime.

Director Katherine Timms said: “With the growing popularity of far-right parties in Europe right now in 2014, and the 70th anniversary of the Second World War on the horizon, the production has been a fascinating chance to explore the transformation of Germany through the eyes of one character’s journey.”

John Askew, who has adapted the production from the book, Christopher and His Kind, also appears in the production.

He said: “I don’t think that is as far away from things as we like to think; it is scary. It could be the UK now with Ukip.

“I am sure nobody living in 1930s Berlin thought Hitler would get the power.”

Askew added that the show also aims to tell the truth about Isherwood’s life.

He said: “I grew up in the north where community is still strong.

“As an actor in London I don’t have that anymore, so those feelings, I think, are quite strong. It wasn’t all about the cabaret.

“He was a guy that suffered at home because of oppressing his sexuality and his story has been bastardised so much.

“We forget really he came to Berlin for the boys, and to find a family.”

He added: “There is even a line in his book that he can’t even really remember who the inspiration for Sally Bowles was, which is really sad as she was one of his best mates.

“I think there is the danger of that with Christopher himself; this production was about being truthful.”

Berlin, the world stage premiere based on Christopher and His Kind, is presented by Jackinabox Productions and runs at The Space until July 5.

Tickets can be booked at space.org.uk.

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