Cheers in the Stadsschouwburg in Groningen. And not because it was finally over after four hours. The three episodes of Crashtest Ibsen by Sarah Moeremans, now combined into one theater compilation, flew by and together organized a party evening for the audience.
The performance is touring the country on behalf of Het Zuidelijk Toneel and Theaterproductiehuis Zeelandia, but Moeremans and her regular lyricist Joachim Robbrecht started with their first Crash test Ibsen at the NNT in Groningen. That was a mess Nora , by the Norwegian playwright Hendrik Ibsen, is still one of the most performed plays in the world. Just like Ibsens afterwards Enemy of the People (at Moeremans Public enemy ) and Ghosts (now I see ghosts ) went Nora for a large-scale version to Oerol on Terschelling.
Just go and have a look for yourself
I had the pleasure of seeing all three at the time and was extra curious about this fresh ‘summary’, which in the North only visits Leeuwarden. For a feel-good evening, go there.
Just as in the original ‘Crash Tests’, Moeremans turns away from the moral judgment that Ibsen made in his plays in the 1880s. After all, why would you hold on to old views after 140 years in which many human insights have been adjusted? For example, the joking Nora ultimately does not leave her labyrinthine banker, as in the original play, but she pontifically kicks him out the door.
Rather than delving deeply into the content – just take a look for yourself – we can talk about the form. As in the earlier versions, the ensemble plays superiorly with time, in a constant alternation between past and present, in a permanent reference to Ibsen’s writing. In fact, a mountain of theatrical self-mockery is also raised here.
“Any coughing, anyone?”
The advantage of this theater version is the stronger direct contact with the audience, as soon as an actor addresses it directly, ‘through the fourth wall’, as they say. Which often happens. A sneezing fit in the hall? “Cheers,” says Evelien Bomans (Nora) from the stage. “Still coughing, anyone?” asks Joep van der Geest (husband Thorvald). “The man in row two is now awake again.”
To further develop the interaction, the audience is welcome on stage between episodes to enjoy a bag of Norwegian snacks and spring water. Stage and audience become one. Strong idea.
At some moments sheer farce
The team of actors is sublime, with the little magician Louis van der Waal actually only having to show up and say something to leave everyone in stitches. It is not just played ‘big’, but often even grotesque in a hilarious way, in which I see ghosts even farce appears as a stylistic device. But terribly good. An experience.
Crash test Ibsen – the ultimate Ibsen binge
Event: Crash test Ibsen by Het Zuidelijk Toneel/Theatre production house Zeelandia Text: Joachim Robbrecht Direction: Sarah Moeremans Game: Evelien Bosmans, Joep van der Geest, Louis van der Waal, Judith van den Berg, Peter Seynaeve, Gillis Biesheuvel Decor: Theun Mosk Costumes: Ilse Vermeulen Seen: 21/9 Stadsschouwburg Groningen Audience: 300 Still to see: 16/11 De Harmonie Leeuwarden