Review: Husbands and Wives, Stadschouwburg Amsterdam

“We don’t want to make a big thing about it”

Well it had to happen didn’t it, a less than stellar piece of theatre in my revered Stadschouwburg in Amsterdam, but I take comfort from the fact that it wasn’t Ivo directing… Instead it was Simon Stone returning to Toneelgroep Amsterdam after his scorching Medea in 2014, to present a version of Woody Allen’s 1992 film Husband and Wives. I say a version, it’s actually extraordinarily faithful to the film, to its detriment.

For though it is huge fun to see members of the Toneelgroep ensemble cutting loose on comedy for the first time, Allen’s story doesn’t contain too much real insight into love and marriage in the twentieth century, never mind the twenty-first, and so cleaving as close to it as Rik van den Bos’ adaptation does, it’s hard not to see Husbands and Wives as a perplexing choice, both for the company and the director.

As I’ve come to expect, the peformance level was ace – Halina Reijn and Ramsey Nasr doing battle as Judy and Gabe (the roles played by Mia Farrow and Allen in the film), Marieke Heebink and Gijs Scholten van Aschat as the separating Sally and Jack, but its all rather insubstantial in the wider context of the production. And if it had just been at the Lyttelton it wouldn’t have been such a problem, but having gone to Amsterdam especially for this…

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