In her bestseller, Juli Zeh tells of a young Berliner named Dora, who moves to the country in the first wave of Corona. She’s fed up with her bright Prenzlauer Berg bubble, her job in a hip advertising agency and, above all, with her boyfriend Robert. In the Brandenburg province, Dora tries to try her hand at an old house. She not only has to contend with the weeds in the overgrown garden, but also with right-wing resentments.
“I’m the village Nazi here”
At the Munich Volkstheater, Nonne director Christian Stückl adapted Juli Zeh’s bestseller for the stage. Here the Brandenburg province is a wide cyclorama, painted with a forest and meadow landscape in sepia. There is a nice ambiguity in this: the urge to get back to nature, a typical impulse of city dwellers like Dora, who is drawn to the country, always has something to do with the longing for a supposedly good old time, which you can immerse yourself in this nostalgic sepia can imagine. At the same time, however, sepia is the color of a past that was quite dark in Germany and that Dora’s new neighbor Gote, who introduces himself with the words “I’m the village Nazi here”, is more likely to yearn for.
The stage in the Munich Volkstheater shows neither the old house that Dora wants to fix nor the trailer next door where Gote lives. The asphalt-gray playing surface is more reminiscent of the country road that cuts through the fictional provincial town of Bracken, where Juli Zeh set the story. A dreary street village, quite isolated, without a supermarket, school or any significant connection to public transport.
An evening that works
Breaking down a 400-page novel into just under two hours of performance is never without losses. Christian Stückl, who created the game version for his production himself, deletes a few characters and combines others, condenses the plot – and clearly some of what the characters say in the condensed version, stripped down to the core sentences, seems a bit striking. But overall the evening works impressively well. Dora’s ex-boyfriend Robert, a climate activist with a tendency to self-righteousness, is developing into a corona rule advocate with a block warden mentality during the pandemic. Nazi neighbor Gote, who helps Dora with the renovations, seems almost sympathetic, the nice Nazi next door, so to speak.