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Something to shout about [January 23, 2011]

I have to confess not going to the theatre very often in Amsterdam. In fact, I may have been twice to see an actual play - apart from school productions - in the past 20 years.

This week, we changed all that, and headed off to the Stadschouwburg in Amsterdam for the premier of Expats, a play about five Dutch people living on a compound in Beijing put on by theatre group Het Toneel.

Despite my limited exposure, there are two prejudices I always have about Dutch acting - they shout a lot and there is always an excuse to take your clothes off. With Expats, they got the nudity out of the way right at the start, which was one of the funniest bits. The shouting, alas, continued all the way through the performance.

The play itself, billed as a black comedy, was funny in places - especially the banality of the conversations between the six - but the plot was really silly and there were too many leaps which left you wondering what was going on. The set, however, was gorgeous!

Best of the lot was ex soapie Daan Schuurman who is shaping up well as a character actor and only shouted a little bit. The chap who played the American did a good job with the accent - and the English bits of the script were cringe-makingly authentic, especially all the stuff about 'where do you come from'.

The play is touring the country so you've got lots of opportunties to see it. The script is in Dutch and English, but unless your Dutch is really great, you may have a hard time working out what they are talking about.

Still, the audience seemed to love it, and happily gave the cast a standing ovation at the end. But then, I was told later, Dutch audiences always give a standing ovation anyway.

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