Review: Ibsenhuis, Stadsschouwberg Amsterdam

“Hollanders bouwen altijd in baksteen”

Simon Stone’s track-record with Ibsen is strong – his adaptation of The Wild Duck was extraordinarily powerful – and so despite my normal reservations with this playwright, I happily booked myself in for his Ibsen Huis (Ibsen House) for Toneelgroep Amsterdam. The play is a new piece of writing but one which takes minor characters from a range of the Norwegian’s dramas and puts them into their own new ensemble, set in the house that Solness built for Hilde Wangel in The Master Builder.

So over three generations, from the 60s to the current day, new cycles of Ibsen-esque family drama play out – lies and loneliness, isolation and infidelity, passion and pain, all the pain of loving and being loved. It’s a dizzying combination, literally so as Lizzie Clachan’s set spins on its axis, and as the shattered narrative is presented to us in fragments. Visually it is clever, especially as it allows for the smoothest of scene changes to be almost cinematically imposed as the focus slides from room to room. Continue reading “Review: Ibsenhuis, Stadsschouwberg Amsterdam”

Production shots for Ibsen Huis

“Moeten we hier als op de Wallen in lingerie gaan zitten?”

Time pressures (and priorities) being what they are, when one is on holiday celebrating one’s birthday, my review of Simon Stone’s Ibsen Huis (Ibsen House) for Toneelgroep Amsterdam won’t be ready for a couple of days. So in the meantime, follow the lovely Hans Kesting’s gaze past the break and feast your eyes on some of the production photos from Jan Versweyveld.

(c) Henri Verhoef

Continue reading “Production shots for Ibsen Huis”

Review: Maria Stuart, Stadschouwburg Amsterdam

“Gelukkig is het einde nu in zicht”

One of the joys of Toneelgroep Amsterdam running a repertory company is that over the few years I’ve been following their work and the few opportunities I’ve secured to see them, I’ve been able to gain a real appreciation for the actors as familiar faces reappear. Two of my favourites – Chris Nietvelt and Hans Kesting – stood out in the life-changingly good Roman Tragedies and so the chance to see them again in the same play made another trip to Amsterdam a no-brainer.

That it is Ivo van Hove directing Maria Stuart certainly didn’t hurt either and sure enough, the mastery of his theatrical vision is fully in evidence once again. Schiller’s regal drama sets up two opposing queens, the protestant Elizabeth I and her Catholic cousin Mary Queen of Scots, as their deadly rivalry comes to a head but for all their disagreements and differences, van Hove shows us how they are as much the same as different, two sides of the same coin trapped by the political machinations of men. Continue reading “Review: Maria Stuart, Stadschouwburg Amsterdam”