Cabaret provides for its audience an animated and a uniquely exciting dramatization of Berlin, Germany just before the Second World War. The story of many Germans living in an uncertain world is shown through just a few characters. Life is a cabaret, or so the famed song goes. After watching “Cabaret,” you’ll agree to an extent, but also realize how unsettling the assertion is. Taking place in the early 1930s, a portrait of life in decadent Berlin, is both uplifting and grim. Not your typical musical, it is comedic and dramatic, realistic, very tasteful, and ultimately thought provoking.
An American named Cliff is traveling by train to Berlin Germany and seems to be quite weary and tired. He meets a German man named Ernst who seems to be quite pleasant and yet just a tad mysterious in his ways. By a stroke of luck Ernst offers him a good name and a place to stay. He even invites Cliff to take in the scene and enjoy himself at a Kit Kat club in the heart of Berlin. Cliff being a somewhat reserved man he is a little reluctant to accept the offerings of his new friend, but realizes he has nowhere else to go, and accepts kindly.
Cliff asserts himself as being a struggling writer, along with being an English tutor. Not only struggling financially but creatively. He seems to have lived a sheltered life, even though it being quite evident that he is a well-traveled man. His goal in going to Berlin is to find some inspiration, to find something worth writing about. He is quite distraught with knowing he is stuck in a situation that isn?t getting better at all. He finds himself living in a one-room apartment in the home of Heir Schneider, who rents out a few rooms to make ends meet.
As Cliff walks into the Kit Kat club he enters the world of promiscuous uninhibited dancers, and people of the like. Men approach him to dance, and women entice him with their charms. He obviously wasn?t all that accustomed to this kind of happening, but he didn?t shy away from it. The first night he lived this almost unreal experience, he met a woman. Sally was a one of a kind woman of her time, being on her own, making her own living, whether that living be on stage or with a man who suits her interest for a while.
As the Wilkommen theme plays in the background, the spirit of the people of Berlin in soon to be nazi Germany, comes alive. Berlin is in a state of extreme change, struggling to overcome their inflation and poverty problems. The people are unsure of their own government and yet outgoing and comfortable in their surroundings. As Sally sang ?Don?t tell Mama? it gave an impression of oppression, she wasn?t really singing to the people in the club, but to the world, the world she sees.
Once Cliff realizes he?s agreed to let Sally move in with him, he realizes he?s in for a whole new experience. Cliff, who finds himself fitting into her ideals, and Sally imposing herself in her seducing, yet manipulative ways, the two of them found themselves needing each other. Neither of them accustomed to ever really needing someone before find themselves interestingly happy, and content.
Sally soon finds herself pregnant leaving a moral question to the both of them. She also reveals her promisequities of past experiences. Cliff is very uneasy of the idea that she was alright with simply getting rid of their child, and talked her out of it. He wanted the world for her; he fell in love with her. He knew he had responsibilities, and yet didn?t want to leave his novel. He thought that giving English lessons would keep him financially strong, but that fantasy was quickly taken away. He knew no one really in Berlin, and well, customers would be hard to find.
After sometime, Sally convinced him to go and work with Ernst and his business dealings. He went to Paris to pick up a suitcase and bring back to Berlin, to Ernst. He thought that the suitcase consisted of simple jewelry and stockings. He was sadly mistaken when realizing he was smuggling in money. He was involved in a scam, and hated it. He found the idea irritating, and frustrating. He refused to do it again, no matter how large the reward. He was an honest man, who needed to make an honest living. Sally on the other hand, just wanted the money.
With the strains of living together and the idea of a baby and marriage the situation changed and got much tenser. Sally wanting to go back to work, singing in the club, and Cliff wanting to go back to America, the two fought, and left each other mad. Cliff left and Sally went to the club. She began her number, and Cliff ran in, and just grabbed her. He desperately wanted to get out of Berlin with her, when she revealed her devious act. She had aborted the baby and sold a fur coat to do it. Cliff was devastated and confused. He just left. He left her the ticket, and walked out. She never went after him. Funny what people who are in love do.
It?s very funny what people who are in love do. Sally had the opportunity to live with a man who did love her and could have had a loving relationship. Cliff came to find something to write about, but fell in love. Which is a lot to write about, but Berlin?s politics got in the way, along with Sally?s trickiness.
Berlin?s politics finds itself getting closer to the beginning of the war and the start of Hitler?s run of things. The segregation of the people begins, especially with Herr Schnieder and Heir Shultz. Shultz rents a room from Schnieder, the two being of the same age, and both having a little in common. Shultz finds himself courting Schnieder a little, and enjoys his time with her. They began spending most of their time together, and Shultz keeps trying to keep the affections of Schnieder. And one evening they find themselves in an uncomfortable position, and Shultz finds himself proposing. He convinces her that people need people, and they have enough in common to make such an idea work. He really did have a soft spot in his heart for her, and so did she. She was an outwardly stubborn woman, but easily swayed by most everyone. She was happy with her life position, at the very least content. She knew that what she did have, she earned and she wasn?t about to find herself throwing it all away.
Politics got in the way of that marriage too. Shultz was a German, but also a Jew. Schnieder was convinced that a Jew would only bring her down, and ruin her. She also knew that the Germans were turning on the Jews, and other outcasts. She then ended the relationship, and Shultz was taken away quite abruptly by the Nazi’s.
Germany’s politics changed everything, and got in the way of everything. The people of Germany are on the edge of change and devastation. After the break up of Sally and Cliff and Shultz and Schnieder, it all represents the break up of all the people of Germany. The unity of the country is gone along with the morality of a government.
The beating of both Cliff and Shultz shows the non-tolerating government. All four are left alone in the end, and no one seems very happy. Cliff goes off to live his life in Pennsylvania again, and Sally goes back to her conniving ways for as long as she can, I suppose. Schnieder will most likely continue to keep renting out her home, and never change her ways. The end of the play brings a realistic representation of Nazi Germany, and the happenings of the time. Hitler?s hopeless loveless devastating rule brings nothing good to the people of Germany or the world.