Gross und Klein (Big and Small)
A Journey across contemporary Germany
by Botho Strauss
English text by Martin Crimp
Whisking us down a rabbit hole and into a wonderland-like world, Gross und Klein (Big and Small) transports us to a hotel dining room in Morocco where Lotte sits alone. She is all dressed up with nowhere to go. There is no one to chat to. Her siesta tour group is ‘at odds’ so she declines to join their excursions. She hasn’t the money to pay for them anyway. For now she will sit alone, listening to the men arguing outside the window, stoically cheerful in the hope that someone, somewhere will need her help or affection.
Here begins an exquisite sequence of scenes in which the courageously optimistic and perpetually disappointed Lotte searches for human connection. She is rejected by her husband, unrecognised by old friends and unfamiliar with her family. Even Lotte’s acquaintances won’t admit to being acquainted with her. Whether she is outside a window peeping in or buzzing on an unanswered intercom this iconic protagonist never quite fits. Like Carroll’s Alice, sometimes Lotte is too big for her surroundings, sometimes too small to be noticed within them.