Thursday, 28 November 2013

'Professor Unrat' ('The Blue Angel') by Heinrich Mann (Review: Part One - The Abode of the Angel)

German Literature Month is drawing to a close, and that means it's time for me to express my gratitude by organising another outing on the German Literature Month Tour Bus.  Unfortunately, my choices over the past two years haven't been a great success: in 2011, we never actually got to see Kafka's castle, and last year's trip to a restaurant was very grim(m) indeed.  Still, things can't go wrong three years in a row - can they?

[The camera fades in from black to reveal a large coach driving around a small town with narrow, winding streets.  It drives past a harbour, leaving several astonished fishermen in its wake, most of whom alternate looks between the bus and the bottles in their hands.  Eventually the coach comes to a halt outside a large building.  Just in front of the bus is a blue lantern, by the light of which we can see a sign reading 'Zum blauen Engel'.

A handful of figures get off the bus, breath steaming in the winter air.  As they are about to walk off, the driver calls out after them...]

Gary: I'll catch you up in a bit.  I've just got to work out where to park this thing...
Tony:  Surely there'll be a car park around the back?
Caroline: It's 1905 - I doubt there's one in the whole country...

[The door closes, and the coach drives off.  Tony opens the door of the building, and the others walk in, their ears immediately assaulted by loud music...

...after walking down a long, brightly-lit corridor, with the noise growing ever louder, they reach a sort of box office and, after Tony slips the clerk a few coins, they open another door and enter a dance hall...

...on stage, a rather overweight couple are singing comic songs, and judging by the roars of laughter coming from the people in the audience (mostly men), they seem to be doing a great job.  The room is packed with tables, most of which are full, but the bloggers make their way to a half-empty table to the side of the hall.]

Caroline: [Looking around] Wow - this is definitely a lively place!
Stu: Better than last year, Tony, at any rate.
Lizzy: [Darkly] Well, now, that wouldn't exactly be difficult, would it?  It's not surprising that you didn't get a great turn-out this time around...
Tony: [Nervously] Let's just forget about that... [He turns and sees the few people seated at the table, an old, shabby-looking man and three teenagers.]  Excuse me - could we join you?  [The man stands up and bows, showering the table in front of him with dandruff.]
Man: Naturally, my pleasure. [Bows again] Allow me to introduce myself - Raat is my name, Professor Raat of the local grammar school.  This here [Pointing to a small, greasy-looking youth] is Master Kieselack, this [Pointing to a fat, fair-haired giant] is Master von Ertzum, and this [Pointing, with a grimace, to a sallow-faced young man inspecting his fingernails] is Master Lohmann - all my students.
Stu: Pleased to meet you [There are handshakes and bows all round.]
Lizzy: [Sitting down] What's that smell? [The boys struggle to stifle a smirk - the professor is momentarily agitated.]
Raat: Perhaps it is the toilets - although they are a fair way from here...
Tony: Speaking of which, I'll be back in a minute...
[He nods at the others and heads towards the back of the room, leaving everyone else to chat...]

[We cut to a corridor somewhere inside the dance hall.  Tony is walking quickly down the corridor, trying every door he passes - in vain.]

Tony: Where is it?  There's got to be something, somewhere...  Aha!

[Finally, Tony finds a door which opens.  In the darkness, he fails to notice the faded blue colour, or the writing across the top...  He opens the door and rushes into a bright room, where a man and a woman stare at him open-mouthed.]

Tony: [Still walking]  Sorry, could you tell me where the loo is?
Man: [Flustered] Erm, straight on, first on the left, but... what?  How?  Who? 

[Tony rushes on, turning right by mistake in his desperation to reach the toilet.]

Woman:  No, left, not right!  Watch out for the... [Splash!] ...swimming pool...

[Back in the dance hall, the bloggers are still chatting with the professor and the students when Raat - or Unrat as Lohmann calls him behind his back - suddenly stops dead and turns to the stage.  The reason for his action is soon evident as an attractive red-haired singer smiles and begins to sing.]

Singer: 'Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt'... [Winks at the bloggers' table] ...and for our English-speaking guests 'I can't help it' [She blows a kiss towards the table, and Unrat Raat leaps up to intercept it.]
Stu: [Leaning towards Lohmann] Who's that?
Lohmann: [Behind his hand] Rosa Fröhlich, star of the show and Unrat's girlfriend, believe it or not...
Raat: [Turning to Stu]  Don't worry, I'll introduce you after her set.  Isn't she wonderful?

[Elsewhere in the club, Tony is drying himself off with a towel, as the man tries to explain just exactly who he is.  Tony stops, suddenly, the penny dropping...]

Tony: Wait - you're the Doctor?
Doctor: Aha, yes, now you've got it!
Tony: Alien?  Magic blue travelling box?
Doctor: Yep, [Smiles smugly] that's me.
Tony: Timey-wimey stuff, plot holes you could drive a bus through? [The Doctor storms off, and the woman, Clara, stifles a giggle.]
Clara: Yeah, that's him alright...

[Back in the main salon, Unrat Raat has just walked up to Rosa, wanting to introduce her to the bloggers.]
Unrat:  Darling, please come over and meet our foreign guests, they're dying to meet you!
Rosa: Dying, you say? [Her eyes gleam brightly as she follows the professor back to the table.  Unrat strides back, not noticing that Rosa isn't following him that closely...]
Unrat: Everyone, this is... [The others begin moving backwards slowly.]  What's the matter with you?  I... [He turns around.]

[Behind him, Rosa is bathed in a bright, shimmering blue light.  Her body illuminates the whole hall, and what seem to be wings begin to appear behind her, long bright appendages, formed purely from light...]

Rosa: Unratchen, come to me, darling...
Unrat: [Nervously] What is it, darling?
Rosa: [Smiling] I just want a kiss, that's all... [She moves forward.]
Unrat: Ahem, I'm not sure if this is the place, liebling...

[Rosa grabs Unrat and kisses him.  Immediately, the professors body glows bright blue and disintegrates, leaving nothing but a pile of dandruff - and a foul smell - behind...  The bloggers stare in shock.]

Caroline: Time to run?
Lizzy: Yep, Malone's done it again...

Has Tony really met a time-travelling alien?
Will the bloggers escape from the mysterious blue angel?
Will Gary ever find a parking spot?
Find out in Part Two of 'The Blue Angel'!