Ten men on stage and you can almost smell
the smoke and sweat,
Ostpolitik, speeches and booze.
They pace a world of low-lit rooms
and creaking floorboards, secrets, shadows
and the threat of spies.
They stand or fall by stories and salutes,
women in tears and love, handshakes
and sex. They gloat in private trains
and dark, plush cars,
a room of telephones and secret files
and an endless cavalcade of wine bottles.
We drink it in slow draught, a riveting account
of one small slice of German history
brought back to life; whilst there on stage
one chancellor, one spy
hang in the balance, caught in the lime-light,
crossing and coupling and moving apart at last.
Democracy plays at the Old Vic until 28 July