Bernd is an actor at the St. Pauli Theater in Hamburg and so far only a supporting actor. He has let himself be swept away by the director to appear in "Der Gasmann", a poisonous play about two SS men who pick up "undesirables" at their homes and liquidate them immediately. Bernd’s "leading role" is a nightmare from the very beginning. Director Frank, otherwise in film, is an ingenious despot who stages perpetrator and victim separately, his colleague partner Mathis a submissive nerd, and the perfidious play is abhorrent to Bernd anyway.
Life is also otherwise difficult for Bernd – his ex only talks to him about the essentials, the bailiff wants money and the few moments he has with his little son are much too short for both of them. And what does Bernd actually want from his clique of five, a literary circle that meets regularly in dive bars in St. Pauli? Who are these smart talkers? Salon revoluzzers, armchair fascists? The liaison with a mysterious young woman is Bernd’s only ray of hope.