Review: De Toverberg / The Magic Mountain, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam

Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain is reconceived as a visually lush De Toverberg by FC Bergman at Internationaal Theater Amsterdam

“It is no time at all, which passes here”

I can’t lie, my experience of German literature is somewhat limited (by choice) and so the name Thomas Mann means little to me. But I’m always willing to give something a whirl at least once, particularly where Internationaal Theater Amsterdam are concerned. And with exciting company FC Bergman at the helm here, I was intrigued if nothing else.

And that is largely where I remained. De Toverberg (or The Magic Mountain) is an epic of a show that resists any easy categorisation (and not just because I wasn’t entirely sure if I knew what was going on at some points). Not knowing the book, I can’t speak to Stef Aerts and Marie Vinck’s adaptation, done alongside dramaturg Koen Tachelet but by all accounts, a fair amount has been chopped. Continue reading “Review: De Toverberg / The Magic Mountain, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam”

Review: Judas, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam

Hans Kesting and Rob Icke reunite again for the thought-provoking if not quite sacrilegously outrageous Judas at Internationaal Theater Amsterdam

“I am here because I have lost faith. I’m here because I want to go home”

The Almeida’s loss has been Amsterdam’s gain. Now Ibsen Artist in Residence for Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, Robert Icke’s inimitable ways with a classic text has been flourishing in his new artistic home (his Oedipus was spectacular). And now he’s tackling one of the most classic texts of all – the Bible – in Judas.

Naturally he is doing it in his own way, pulling not only from the Gospels of Luke, John and Matthew but also from the non-canonical Gospel of Judas which has a somewhat different perspective. And thus Icke makes the case that Judas’ side of the story has yet to be truly heard and that the ‘true’ story comes from listening to them all. Continue reading “Review: Judas, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam”

Review: Pheromone, LipZinc Theatre

Exploring the world of male domestic abuse in 1950s Ireland, LipZinc Theatre’s Pheromone makes for an uncompromising watch

“So she has a few fantasies…so what? We all do”

Tzarini Meyler’s play Pheromone explores a world of male domestic abuse in 1950s Ireland with a refreshing, if uncompromising, straight bat. Much has been made of the opportunities that digital theatre and its technological advances offer now that it is actually something of a surprise to see a straight play mostly delivered in a traditional manner. It’s also a useful reminder that theatre can be just as effective when pared right back.

David’s a nice lad who lives with his mam. He wants nothing but to please her but he’s 36 now and his relationship with his mother Eva has warped into a disturbing codependency. In the blink of an eye, she’ll flip from worshipping him to loathing him, a master manipulator whose desperate fear of loneliness means she’ll do what it takes to put the kibosh on his plans of making a new life for himself with a girlfriend.  Continue reading “Review: Pheromone, LipZinc Theatre”

Review: The Place I Call Home Festival

Anything with Sharon D Clarke zumbaing to ‘Sissy That Walk’ has to be worth your time right?! The Place I Call Home Festival explores new writing through new technology in a fascinating way but book now!

“Another day and we’re sat here doing nothing again”

Paines Plough have always been a company to do theatre a bit differently so it is no surprise to see them responding innovatively to the restrictions imposed by coronavirus. The Place I Call Home is a two-week digital festival of new work, taking the opportunity to explore multiple mediums and international collaborations as three new bilingual plays take place across Zoom, email, WhatsApp and good old snail mail.

Pinging daily into WhatsApp, A Brief History of Struggle by Dipo Baruwa-Etti and Calle Fuhr presents 5 minute snapshots of conversations that might be overheard on park benches. Scenes switch between London and Dortmund and span 1928 to 2020 so the whole thing is necessarily quite fragmented. And as engaging some of the segments are, from burgeoning feminist rights to reactions to immense tragedy, there’s little sense of a cumulative dramatic effect to match the novel delivery. Continue reading “Review: The Place I Call Home Festival”

News: Internationaal Theater Amsterdam join in the streaming game with ITALive

With ITALive, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam get in on the livestreaming game with their productions of Medea, Wie heeft mijn vader vermoord (Who killed my father) and De stille kracht (The hidden force)

In the grand scheme of things, missing out on my regular trips to Amsterdam this year isn’t that big of a deal though it still makes me sad to think of the friends I haven’t seen, the theatre I’ve missed, all the bitterballen I’ve not eaten…

But Internationaal Theater Amsterdam are going some way to rectify that by launching ITALive (and for the long term too, not just for the pandemic) as a way of extending the reach of their work. Selected shows from their repertoire are being livestreamed from the magnificent Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam starting with Simon Stone’s exquisitely heart-wrenching take on Medea starring the incomparable Marieke Heebink. Continue reading “News: Internationaal Theater Amsterdam join in the streaming game with ITALive”

Not-a-review: La Ménagerie de Verre, Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe

Coronavirus may stopped me from seeing Isabelle Huppert and Ivo van Hove’s La Ménagerie de Verre at the Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe in Paris but some bloopers will always make me smile

“La scène est la mémoire”

In the grand scheme of things, missing out on an Ivo van Hove/Isabelle Huppert collaboration isn’t the end of the world but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. La Ménagerie de Verre was due to come to the Barbican this summer but naturally I wanted to see this Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe production in its Parisian home. As a co-production with La Comédie de Clermont-Ferrand scène nationale, Onassis Stegi in Athens, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, Thalia Theater in Hamburg, deSingel in Antwerp and the Barbican, one hopes that this won’t be the end for this production, we’ll have to see.

Any chance to see Huppert live should be snaffled up immediately, no matter how strange or how far, but there’s also something interesting in seeing Tennessee Williams done in a foreign language as released from the distracting tyranny of trying to nail a Southern accent, the potential for something richer seems to flow.


Continue reading “Not-a-review: La Ménagerie de Verre, Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe”