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Where to start? We’re in a recording studio. Two musicians hang about, two commentators (De Warme Winkel’s Vincent Rietveld and Nieuw West’s Marien Jongewaard) pompously discuss music theory, perhaps on a radio show. Later, they interview the guitarists, who are also brothers (Bram and Jasper Stadhouders). It’s absurd and incredibly funny at the same time, as the interviewers shamelessly project their own opinions onto their subjects. This is the onset of more animosity: the plan is to perform Amadeus, the 1979 Peter Shaffer play (again based on a short story by Pushkin). But who plays Mozart and who plays Salieri?
Marien Jongewaard’s stage presence is both a subject and a unique selling point of Amadeus, and for his looks, comparisons with Keith Richards are hard to resist. His raw, direct treatment of text is incomparable.
Ward Weemhoff has directed a deliciously outrageous, grotesque satire about the confrontation between the true, ‘free’ artist and the pragmatic cultural entrepreneur. The theme runs through every exchange in Amadeus: childlike Mozart versus staunch Salieri, Rietveld and his fondness of simulacra versus Jongewaard for whom all work has to be original, a studious Bram versus a carefree Jasper.
If you came to see the original story, stay home. The core business between the prodigy and his eventual killer is pretty much snowed under amongst all else.
The live music becomes an integral part of the show, since in this context that, too, can be politicized. Jasper’s free jazz is pitted against Bram’s love of Bach. This playing with theatrical frames continues most memorably in the lengthy fight between Rietveld and Jongewaard, in which the reputations of either theater collective are used as munition. It makes for a thoroughly enjoyable bout of self-critique.
One downside of its bravoure is that the show runs a bit out of breath, especially towards the end – but then again, part of the fun is that due to speed and wit, you sometimes really have to figure out what you’re looking at again.
Imagery by Sofie Knijff
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