EPT8 Berlin: Beyond the horizon at Casino Spielbank. Das Musical!


Next to the Casino Spielbank is the Theatre am Potsdamer Platz, a giant glass fronted construction draped with an enormous advert for Hinterm Horizont (Beyond the Horizon) Das Musical!; a story of love behind the Wall in East Berlin, to the music of German rock legend Udo Lindenberg. There's also an East German Trabant parked outside, for a sort of low cost three dimensional effect.

We once saw Lindenberg in the bar of the Hyatt Hotel, after one of the early performances of the show that has been at the theatre for a little more than a year.

On the banner outside the theatre, Lindenberg's silouhette projects the image of a man with a thirty year old haircut and a fedora twice that old. Lindenberg reportedly has a croaky voice which also shows in the picture.

In real life he looked exactly the same, his 60-year-old face obscured by the hat and several decades of a glorious binge of booze and cigarettes. He's easily recognisable though, which is a good thing, because a man fitting that description is usually asked to leave.

It's at the Spielbank where nine tables are still in full swing, easing the pressure on an already wall-to-wall tournament room back at the Hyatt.

Casino Spielbank

It's entirely pleasant up there, with that comforting smell that blends stale people with disinfectant that makes casinos seem familiar and welcoming. A window at the end of the room, which was blocked by the television set last year, allows natural light to twinkle in the glass shelves of the bar.

At that bar is presenter Gail Garcia, wearing shorts that make shorts look like long trousers, waiting for her next assignment, alongside German presenter Natalie Hof. The two of them look bored and there's no one behind the bar to crack the seal on the line up of gin, rum, bourbon, whisky and vodka that sit on the shelf, lonely yet filled with potential.

Separated from the main event field this may be but there remain the tell tail signs that this is, after all, an EPT main event.

Someone asks for the wireless password, for instance (there isn't one), while another player insists on a massage. Headphones in, Johnny Lodden plays FIFA 2012 on his iPad, while at a nearby vacant table camera teams sit, waiting for something to happen.

The line up in such a small area is formidable, with seven former EPT champions up here on what's called the first floor, although there are enough stairs to make it the third floor.

Liv Boeree, Jake Cody, Max Lykov, Michael Tureniec, Kevin MacPhee, Rupert Elder and Sebastian Ruthenberg are all on this side of Marlene Dietrich Platz, accompanied by the likes of Lodden, Jan Callado, Saar Wilf, Faraz Jaka, Andre Akkari, Jude Ainsworth and Per Linde. Then Ruthenberg busted, his jacks no use against a set of nines, leaving just six former winners.

Back outside, the only people walking across the forecourt, shared by the theatre and casino are a couple of tourists, staring up at Lindenberg's silhouette, me, trying to get into the Trabant, and Ruthenberg, striding off. A nightclub next to the theatre promises Ladies Night is on the way, but, like in the theatre, and three flights up in the Casino, the excitement is contained for now.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in Berlin