Review Bukowski Waits

Bukowski Waits…

Seen June 21, 16.00 uur, Frascati

Wire Netting and Cigarettes

Nynke Oele

Combine Tom Waits’ smoky nightclub-voice with the metropolitan, autobiographical lunacy of Charles Bukowski’s poetry and you’re left with the most important ingredients of the theater piece Bukowski Waits… by Daan Alkemade. ‘So what could go wrong?’ the program reads. ‘A lot,’ I think, when the smoking musicians play their first notes. The pitfall of too too much rock-n-roll melancholy is lurking.  Of course, there is smoking and drinking on stage, but my fear turns out to be ungrounded. ‘I don’t wanna grow up’, Alkemade sings, his voice sounds honest and unpolished. He has trouble reaching the high notes. Thank god. It is not going to be a Waits-look-a-like-contest, but a performance with its own atmosphere and rhythm.

In between songs, he tells stories. In English. About why he decided to go drinking alone. About the woman, God is sending to him, as He could not watch a man drinking all by himself. About his girlfriend who had pissed in the elevator. About the Grolsch twist-cap. Do we want one as well? It is a Saturday afternoon, 4pm, so this kind of audience participation is sure to be of interest. One of the audience members stands up, reaches over the wire netting, to distribute the beers. That is not the only moment that the wire netting clumsily separates us from the actor; it constantly blurs the intimacy of the story.

The remainder of the decor has been kept sober, so that the attention goes out to the lyrics, the singing, and the musicians. The songs, of which one is sung maladroitly charming out of a shopping cart, express a mixture of boyhood romance and unpretentious theater. Yet, they are still personal enough to captivate. Even though the wire netting.

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