Review: Age of Rage, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam

7 Greek tragedies in nearly 4 hours…Age of Rage is a hugely exhilarating and insightful piece of epic storytelling from Internationaal Theater Amsterdam at the Barbican Centre

“Brother is afraid of brother
father of son
son of father”

It is probably a sign of how in thrall I am to Ivo van Hove’s directiorial innovation that when the god Apollo took a tumble off the stage towards the end of Age of Rage, I really wasn’t sure whether it was intentional or not (I’m still not, I see it as a sign that even the gods aren’t infallible). But whilst I am undoubtedly a fanboy, this show sees him return to the epic storytelling that Internationaal Theater Amsterdam does so very well (qv similar anthology works Roman Tragedies, Kings of War).

Here, van Hove and co-adaptor Koen Tachelet have smashed together seven Greek tragedies by Euripides and Aeschylus to tell the overarching story of the House of Atreus. And why wouldn’t you? It seems such an obvious idea, as to appreciate the events of Agamemnon, it helps to know what happened in Hecuba, to understand the the vengeful motivations of Electra and Orestes, knowing what passes in Iphigenia in Aulis is crucial. Altogether, they present a blistering portrait of a vicious cycle of violent retribution and power struggles. Continue reading “Review: Age of Rage, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam”

News: Young Vic Announces Work for Summer – Autumn 2022

The Young Vic’s plans for Summer-Autumn 2022 include new musical Mandela and the brilliant Hans Kesting in Who Killed My Father

The Secretaries 
By The Five Lesbian Brothers
Directed by Deirdre McLaughlin
Clare Theatre
1 – 11 June

“How did a decent girl like me get involved with a cult of murderous secretaries?”

New girl Patty is just dying to fit in with the perfectly put together secretaries at the Lumber Mill. But when the local lumberjacks start going missing, how far will she go to join their clique?

From American theatre company, The Five Lesbian Brothers, comes a murderously dark comedy that splits open gender stereotypes and carves up the line between violent instincts and passive submission. Continue reading “News: Young Vic Announces Work for Summer – Autumn 2022”

News: Edinburgh International Festival Launches 2022 Programme

Edinburgh International Festival celebrates its 75th anniversary with a cracking programme of bold work. Music, opera and dance are also on the table but I’ve focused on their theatre offerings here

© Jan Versweyveld

Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, one of Europe’s most important theatre companies, takes up residence at the 2022 International Festival with two epic shows from their repertoire, A Little Life and The Magic Mountain, as well as presenting a new adaption of The End of Eddy by Toneelschuur Producties. Acclaimed director Ivo van Hove adapts Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life for the theatre into a deeply moving performance of epic proportions, featuring Dutch actor Ramsey Nasr who won the Louis d’Or (Best Male Performance) for his portrayal of central character Jude. Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, widely considered one of the most influential works of twentieth-century German literature, is adapted by radical theatre makers Stef Aerts and Marie Vinck (FC Bergman), into an epic work for contemporary audiences.

© Sanne Peper

Norwegian director Eline Arbo adapts The End of Eddy, Édouard Louis’ autobiographical novel about growing up gay and poor in rural France, into a dazzling, unpredictable show mixing text, choreography and music. Internationaal Theater Amsterdam’s residency is supported by James and Morag Anderson. Continue reading “News: Edinburgh International Festival Launches 2022 Programme”

Review: The Human Voice, Harold Pinter Theatre

Ruth Wilson and Ivo van Hove reunite for The Human Voice, a striking monologue that is bound to be divisive

“This phone is the last thing that still connects us”

In some ways, The Human Voice is an obvious choice. A short run of a monologue which allows Ruth Wilson to reunite with director Ivo van Hove after their acclaimed Hedda Gabler in a mighty showcase. In others though, it is a little perplexing. Jean Cocteau’s phone-based play dates back to 1930 and van Hove’s production, although tinkered with here, was created in 2009 so there’s admittedly little freshness in the air.

We’re witnessing the dying embers of a broken relationship. Wilson’s nameless woman is having a final phone call with her former lover (who remains unseen and unheard), knowing full well that if and when he hangs up it will truly be over as he’s about to get married to someone else. And for just over an hour, she runs the full gamut of desperate emotion, from dancing to vomiting, unable to reconcile with the truth that he just doesn’t love her any more. Continue reading “Review: The Human Voice, Harold Pinter Theatre”

News: Ivo van Hove’s Age of Rage to play the Barbican in May

Internationaal Theater Amsterdam will return to the Barbican as an early birthday present for me, as they bring their newest epic production Age of Rage to London. Promising spectacular set design by Jan Versweyveld, choreography from Wim Vandekeybus and music from the contemporary music collective BL!NDMAN [drums], it is just the 3 hours and 45 minutes as opposed to the 6 hours of Roman tragedies so this’ll be a comparative breeze in the park. 

In Age of Rage, Ivo van Hove tells a primordial story of how revenge haunts and wrecks successive generations. This performance is in line with earlier large-scale social productions such as Roman tragedies and Kings of war. This time the history of the Trojan War and the royal Atrid family is the starting point. Ifigeneia in AulisTrojan Women, Hekabe, Agamemnon, Elektra  and Orestes are edited into one story. Age of Rage shows the mechanisms, inevitability and hopelessness of a circle of violence in Dutch with English surtitles.

News: Ruth Wilson and Ivo van Hove reunite for The Human Voice

After the pandemic robbed us of the chance to see 24 hours of Ruth Wilson, the celebrated (not least by me) actress has revealed her plans to return to the London stage. She’s set to star in The Human Voice, an adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s monologue by Ivo van Hove and designed by Jan Versweyveld, at the Harold Pinter Theatre for three short weeks from 17th March until 9th April.

The production brings back together Wilson and van Hove after their vibrant take on Hedda Gabler at the National Theatre back in 2016. And it is a show has been in Internationaal Theater Amsterdam’s (or Toneelgroep Amsterdam as was) repertoire for a good few years now, with the marvellous actress Halina Reijn having performed it one way or another every year from 2008 to 2019! Continue reading “News: Ruth Wilson and Ivo van Hove reunite for The Human Voice”

News: One year of National Theatre at Home – New titles added

Ahead of National Theatre at Home’s one year anniversary on 1 December, the National Theatre has today announced the next filmed productions to be added to the streaming service, which is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Joining the platform today is Simon Godwin’s critically acclaimed 2018 production of Antony & Cleopatra in the Olivier theatre, with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo playing Shakespeare’s famous fated couple. Then the iconic and multi-award-winning production of War Horsebased on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, will be available from 1 December until 31 January 2022 on demand internationally for the first time since its premiere 14 years ago. It will be available with British Sign Language, audio description and captions. Continue reading “News: One year of National Theatre at Home – New titles added”

News: National Theatre adds five new productions to streaming platform National Theatre at Home

The National Theatre has today announced the latest productions to be made available on its National Theatre at Home streaming platform. Launching today, Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum Dreams, the Young Vic’s A View from the Bridge directed by Ivo van Hove with Mark Strong and Nicola Walker, and Rufus Norris’ production of Everyman with Chiwetel Ejiofor will be available for all audiences worldwide to stream. Danny Boyle’s production of Frankenstein and Sonia Friedman Productions’ Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch will also be available for audiences outside the UK and Ireland. Continue reading “News: National Theatre adds five new productions to streaming platform National Theatre at Home”

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”