posted by laura becker
I really felt like I was missing something as I was sitting quietly, paying close attention to the characters on stage, who were seemingly brought together into a story of grief, when all of a sudden people around me were laughing. The less it seemed the actors were doing on stage, the more laughter there was spreading around me. Giggling, guffawing, out of control glee. Eventually I caught the contagious effect, giggling at the actors and their tics, their somewhat stumbling sensibilities, their ease into the awkward. It was slapstick for sure, but even as I chuckled, I thought: geez, Dutch comedy is depressing.
The moment that finally shook the giggles out of me was when Esther’s character forced Mischa’s to cry. “It’s okay,” she said, “you need to get it out”. And it actually started off as amusing – let me help you be sad, let me sooth the grief out of you with my clownish assistance – but quickly it seemed to me to be her own grief that she was forcing through him, her own need to lose it, to go crazy, that she brutishly took out on him. A second later she was shrugging it off with a funny kick and two-step. The moment was quick enough to miss, but so raw with emotion that it lingered in slow motion for me, long after the rest of the audience was giggling again.
But the more I think about the piece, the more sense I make out of it, the more completely absurd and hysterical it seems. In the live performance, the “characters” did everything they could to avoid truly sharing in any emotion in their shared grief, and it was funny. In the video, the “actors” practically leaped into their lonely despair, and it was still funny. So now I’m thinking: Dutch tragedy – hilarious.