author: Magne van den Berg
theatre/ensemble: Toneelschuur Producties, Haarlem
seen on 23rd June in Wiesbaden during the New Plays From Europe Festival
plot: A father and daughter talk on the phone. In 28 scenes, they chat, argue,
cry, fall silent or just leave a message on the answer- phone. Their
wife and mother has died recently and while the daughter, who lives in
the city, looks back with nostalgia to her parents’ house in the
country, her father has already found a new partner and is trying to
move on. So they talk about what should happen to the old furniture,
photos, the urn ... Behind the everyday topics, deep emotions are
lurking and so sometimes the only recourse is to talk about the weather.
After her mother’s death, the daughter spent some nights in her
father’s bed – to give him comfort, or so she says. Now she would like
to get rid of the bed ... “Father and daughter share a great loss”, says
dramatist Magne van den Berg, “and this creates a close bond between
them; at the same time it creates distance, because they both try to
survive any way they can: They react very differently and sometimes
cruelly, because each one forgets the other’s pain.”
verdict: What a subtle and quiet play compared to most other festival entries.
Not much is going on visually when father and daughter talk (or not talk really) on the phone, most of the time a curtain divides them and only in short flashbacks we see them united again.
Not much is going on in the text either, the emotions are mostly encoded in apparently banal descriptions of the current weather situation. But they are there if you pay attention.
I overheard discussions in the audience if the possibilty of incest implied by the title was not thematized enough. I don´t share their opinion - for me this possible ambiguity does not not really exist. This father/daughter relationship is not the easiest but certainly not an unusual one as well so reading an abuse case into it would ruin the entire play.
Moving, even if not very exciting.