Shut Up and Play with Me by Het Zuidelijk Toneel.Figurine Sofie Knijff

    Toss a handful of brooms and some plastic bags into a room. Add two actors and you have a performance. At least if it’s up to director Sarah Moeremans and actors Joep van der Geest and Louis van der Waal. In the small, fine presentation Shut Up and Play with Me it’s not about playing the art, but about the art of playing.

    They were inspired by the book Homo ludens (1938) by cultural historian Johan Huizinga, in which he emphasizes the importance of play as the basis of our culture. Shut Up and Play with Me reminds us that there is no better way to stay young than to play.

    The two on stage are obsessed with the game they are playing, or rather the chain reaction of games. Their muttering is unintelligible. Language is of no importance here, just pure and unadulterated play. They throw the brooms like spears, ride them like horses, use them as a rolling raft. They race, chase and fight. They play strip mikado until they are both naked. They skate on plastic bags, mutilate themselves with rubber bands and destroy a garbage can.

    It’s reminiscent of old-fashioned slapstick. Or more modern: Jackass. Or more chic: performance art, but fun performance art. It visibly hurts when Van der Geest gets a stick to his head or when a bouncing rope hits his face. But those are the risks of the game. Quitting is not an option, because then there will be nothing left of this world.

    Shut Up and Play with Me

    Theater

    ★★★★☆

    Through The Southern Scene. Director Sarah Moeremans.

    25/11, Theater De Nieuwe Vorst, Tilburg. Tour until 10/12.

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