‘The Show In Which Hopefully Nothing Happens’ review

Theatre, Children's
3 out of 5 stars
The Show in Which Hopefully Nothing Happens, 2019
© Camilla Greenwell

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

This surreal Dutch kids’s show is good fun

Out-there Dutch kids’ theatre piece ‘The Show in Which Hopefully Nothing Happens’ is a work of two halves: one deadpan, one slapstick.

In the first, a stony-faced, gum-chewing bouncer named Nigel – Shunt’s Nigel Barrett – is absolutely determined to stop anything whatsoever happening on Hester Jolink’s plywood set. He looks around with his torch, sets an alarm, then locks up. The stage is completely silent and empty, with nobody on it and nothing happening, just an abandoned piano and microphone. Eventually, Riad (Riad L Richie), an actor inexplicably dressed in doublet and hose, attempts to enter. He can’t, or at least not until he starts drilling. He gets in, but that’s it: Nigel won’t allow him or the prodigious wodge of sheet music he’s carrying anywhere near the piano or mic. Or his, er turtle.

I loved this phase of Jetse Batelaan’s restaged production, which he first devised with original cast members Martin Hofstra and René Geerlings. You could call it a subversive look at the meaninglessness of many of the rules that govern the adult world, or a mockery of theatrical pretension, or both, or neither. But it’s excellent absurdist fun, albeit possibly more so for the adults than the kids in the audience, who watched attentively but didn’t laugh like they laughed in the dafter second half.

How to describe this bit of the show? I’d jotted down ‘U-rated “Twin Peaks: The Return”’ on my notepad. Which is possibly overselling it, but not that far off the mark: it features doppelgangers (there are two versions of Nigel, who chase each other, for some reason) and a parade of small cackling little silver humanoids who lurch stiltedly across the room. It is really weird and silly and the kids in the audience (it’s aimed at ages six-to-ten) howled in delight.

Personally, I missed the first half’s cerebral smarts, and there was surely a lot more mileage in the setup. The out-and-out eccentricity of the second half is a hoot, and would make a great show in its own right. But the end result maybe feet like halves of two different shows that don’t quite gel together.

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