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Germany – as it laughs and goes bonkers: Pension Schöller is a masterpiece of nonsense. It tells the story of the big landowner Philipp Klapproth, who comes up with an idea to experience something new and therefore leaves his country estate to travel to the big city – Berlin. He’s not looking for adventure, however; instead he wants to get to know real crazy people in a real insane asylum. His nephew, who is hoping to get some money from his uncle, makes his uncle’s wish come true by telling him a lie: He takes Klapproth to a boardinghouse called Pension Schöller. The supposed lunatic asylum is actually just a normal bed and breakfast, although some of the guests are in fact quite strange: There’s an old retired major, a big game huntsman, a female writer, and the daughter of the owner of the boardinghouse, who, despite a slight speech impediment, is determined to become an actress. Klapproth believes he’s in an asylum, so he also believes all of these people are crazy. At first, he’s as happy as can be, but this feeling is quickly replaced by one of horror – and in the end Klapproth himself is driven to the brink of insanity.

Pension Schöller, which was written in 1890, isn’t just a slapstick piece, as it also highlights the petty bourgeois humus in which German fantasies of omnipotence were able to thrive beautifully in that era. The superficial lackadaisical atmosphere of the play vanishes quickly, however, and the supposedly harmless comedy reveals itself to be an abysmal and grotesque exploration of damaged souls.

With Lioba Breitsprecher, Mario Gaulke, Hans-Harald Janke, Franziska Kleinert, Sascha Perthel, Aaron Smith, Sebastian Urbanski, Michael Wittsack, Matthias Mosbach, Boris Jacoby, Diana Ebert, Leo Solter
Directed by Jacob Höhne Stage design Jacob Höhne, Steffen Sünkel Costume design Beatrix Brandler Live Music Leo Solter, Willi Sieger Dramaturgy Steffen Sünkel
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"Selber schuld, wer sich vom Etikett »Lustspiel« in die Irre führen lässt. Denn PENSION SCHÖLLER bleibt ein kleinbürgerliches Trauerspiel – der Verwandlung von Kunst in Kitsch, von wertvoll in billig, von echt in unecht. Nietzsches Entwertung aller Werte? Aber ganz so kulturpessimistisch will es das höchst vitale RambaZamba-Ensemble nicht sehen. Hier feiert es sich vor allem selbst, mit allen Mitteln, auch denen des schlechten Geschmacks, Hauptsache orgiastisch." Gunnar Decker, Neues Deutschland