A Funny Funeral Thanks to Simplicity
A strange sensation, but still: funerals are funny. To make this clear, director Paul van der Laan (Bambie) and nine students of the Amsterdam School of Theatre and the Kleinkunstacademie do not need to resort to crude jokes, slapstick, or merriment. Wust, one of the first performances during Its festival simply shows a funeral. This includes the clichés, embarrassing moments, and strong emotions that go along with it.
The lights in the theatre are still on as a coy woman hesitantly walks the stage. She does not speak. She greets the audience and slowly shuffles towards a freezer. Again she does not speak. You would better get use to this, as awkward silences have the upper hand in Wust. The modesty of the play affects the audience and this causes a true funeral atmosphere. Apart from a few bursts of laughter, the theater is mouse-still.
The extended silences on stage are sometimes interrupted, not only by clumsy dialogues but also by a number of musical pieces, of which the most are a cappella. They are all beautiful songs that deserve a second listen. Nine people singing simultaneously is an overwhelming experience as well as a pleasant variation on timidity.
Unfortunately, the play takes a completely different direction in the ending when it turns out that the man in the freezer was not as enjoyable as presumed. This twist turns into an impressive climax, yet ultimately it detracts from the piece. The plot suddenly becomes vague, more explicit and the idea of the play is hard to discover. After the twist, Wust taps into a bunch of subjects, but it does not explore them in depth for them to leave a lasting impression.
Artistic development script: Diederik Ebbinge. Directed by: Paul van der Laan. Dramaturgy: Marijn van der Jagt. Performed by: Christine de Boer, Daan Colijn, Roos van Erkel, Milena Haverkamp, Elise Schaap, Yentl Schieman, Annefleur Schep, Pepijn Schoneveld & Cathelijne Vaarkamp. Producer: Mathijs te Kiefte (student opleiding Productie podiumkunsten), assistant to the producer: Mara Aronson (student opleiding Productie podiumkunsten)