Last week I saw a play with a very special audience. They were all contestants, judges and organizers of The Play of Nijmegen. This is an amateur theater festival, of which I already wrote about as an audience member and as a participant. Because the festival was organized to hang out with other theater grow rather than bite each other’s heads off, the organizers offered all of us to see this play. And one of the actors was a judge of the contest!
The play was called Ex and the actors were all directors and drama teachers, who united specifically for this play. It was awesome to see a play acted by professionals! They gave me exactly what I love in a play: truthful, realistic acting. Characters I could identify with, because I either recognized myself or people I know in real life.
Two of the actors had to play small children. This is tricky, since they were adults. They didn’t have any lines though. I think this was a brilliant choice, because it prevents adults sounding like idiots, which can easily be a result of trying to play a child. But acting without lines also is so much more difficult. Every communication should be done with body language, without turning it into sign language. The children were also very busy and annoying, which is also not an easy thing to do without using words. The actors were very equipped to do so, though. I noticed they didn’t speak any words, but I did not miss words in their play at all.
The play was not about the kids though. They were just used to show the audience how this family operated, or malfunctioned, rather. The play was really about a friend coming to visit with his new girlfriend, not so long after his divorce with his wife. But even more this play was about friendship and love, about choosing sides and wanting to fit in, about betrayal and keeping secrets, about secret desires and jealousy, about acceptance and disapproval, about keeping up appearances and losing control. And all these themes were presented in a time-span of two hours and they were perfectly balanced.
It was a very well-written play, for which I should give the playwright Carver all the credits. But a well-written play can be turned into rubbish if the actors cannot portray it the right way. And this could have easily been the case with this play, because it was a really difficult one. Children played by adults, lots of conversations, very little action and inner struggles rather than a clear, concrete goal.
These actors had all the right tools though. I wasn’t bored for a second. On the contrary. Sometimes there was so much going on at once, that I was afraid I might miss something. And I’m not talking about actions, but about facial expressions, exchanged looks and awkward silences. The actors made us look inside they’re heads, explore they’re minds. That was so interesting. And I admire them for being able to give us that.
I should also give the director Annigje de Winter credits though. Imagine having to direct six fellow directors, each with their own opinions and views on theater! That cannot have been an easy task.
I really hope these actors will create another project in the future. I’d love to see them in a play together again once. But if they choose to walk their own paths again, I would be happy to see them on stage individually as well. Or maybe being directed by one of them. Who knows.
We were not allowed to take any pictures during the performance. I asked if there were any photos available for me to use, but unfortunately there weren’t. Sorry. You’ll just have to use your own vivid imagination for this one!