About the author
It’s over a hundred years ago that Louis Couperus wrote his famous novel De Stille Kracht (‘The Silent Force’), set in colonial Indonesia with Otto van Oudijck (Gijs Scholten van Aschat) at its center, the Dutch representative in the East Indies. He firmly believes in his role as the bearer of a superior Western culture in an uncultivated land. Busy working, it escapes him that his wife Leonie (Halina Reijn) betrays him with his son Theo (Jip van den Dool), from a different marriage, just as other, even more threatening issues don’t catch his attention.
When Otto fires the local regent for misbehaving despite pleas from his mother, the hidden forces of the land seem to turn against him and his family, eroding his world and ultimately leaving him half naked, doing chores in the forest.
De Stille Kracht is extremely slick.
Rain and wind play a big part in this production (people in the first row are given a blanket), and what seems frivolous at first turns into a strong element: the extreme weather becomes a symbol for the silent, irreversible forces that the colonizer will never understand. The set design (Jan Versweyveld) involves tasteful video projections that add to the stifling feeling of impending doom.
De stille kracht is extremely slick, with little doubt built into the characters and pleasing, wild dance sequences. It features live music and sound effects (Harry de Wit) and a number of non-speaking servants who, throughout the evening, calmly lay tables and clean up after the main characters. Their silence takes on a meaning of its own, too, of course. Acting as a constant safety net for the Westerners to fall back on when the day is too hot or the bats too scary, they are powerful because they know the country better.
The acting is superb, and young actors like Mingus Dagelet, Vanja Rukavina and Gaite Jansen mix effortlessly with the experienced stalwarts. The constancy in quality of Van Hove’s work is again and again astounding. Over the coming years he will stage another two of Couperus’ novels, whom he regards as ‘’the most worldly writer in Dutch literature’’.
de stille kracht
English surtitling on Thursdays.
Cover picture by Jan Versweyveld.
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