UNFORTUNATELY THE PERFORMANCE CAN NOT BE PROGRAMMED DURING THE FESTIVAL
For his third collaboration with Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, Simon Stone adapted pieces by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen to create one big family saga which follows three generations during various phases in their lives. The country retreat to which the title alludes plays a central role. We meet the family members from 1964, the moment at which the house is encased in scaffolding, to 2016, when it is engulfed by flames.
The result is a dizzying, non-chronological succession of scenes. An interplay of suppression, lies and reckonings in which the house is the only witness to the dark side of this petit bourgeois family. Simon Stone leads you to the most secret and painful places in their souls. While you enjoy breathtaking theatre!
From the jury report:
Dominating the stage is the menacingly monumental, three-storey holiday home of the Kerkman family, which was designed and built by paterfamilias Cees (Hans Kesting). This house (a Lizzie Clachan design) is the main character in the play Ibsen Huis by the Australian director Simon Stone for Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (previously Toneelgroep Amsterdam). It should provide the family with a sense of security, but in this pitch-black vision of family relationships it becomes a glass prison.
Stone approaches the classical theatre repertoire like an iconoclast. He devours it and spits it out again: digested, transformed, actualized in the extreme. This time he takes several of Ibsen’s dramas – The Master Builder, Little Eyolf and Ghosts – , reworks them and ingeniously weaves them into one large family drama that spans generations. In so doing he provides both ‘inclusive’ insight into Ibsen’s oeuvre and a sombre vision of the perpetuum mobile of the human condition. Special mention should be made here of the Internationaal Theater Amsterdam’s phenomenal troupe of actors, with Maria Kraakman, Maarten Heijmans (Arlecchino 2017) and Hans Kesting as the brightest stars. Together with the monumental set they are the driving force behind this infernal family history.
Equally impressive is the interaction between technology and dramaturgy. We follow the Kerkman family from 1964, when the house was built, until it goes up in flames in 2016. We look in through large expanses of glass – we see everything, even if much of it cannot tolerate the daylight: jealousy, adultery, lies, manipulation, illness, incest and euthanasia. The revolving house enables Stone to use cinematic effects: scenes and times merge seamlessly in a clever montage. In the third, most theatrical part, past and present become so entwined that the temporal boundaries evaporate and the house becomes a place where these characters are imprisoned for eternity, with each other, with their memories, their guilt and regrets. We are left with just one fateful conclusion: generations come and go, faces change, but the hurt and sorrow that family members cause one another continues, unchanged. In short, Ibsen Huis is a monument.