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Ester Natzijl and Babiche Ronday create a performance inspired by the cuts in government funding of the arts. A power struggle between a circus ringmaster and the last artist on Earth (a ballerina) painfully shows dependency, authority and tyranny at work. These two sceptical women really grasped what art could be like in a possible future without funding. A confronting image that hurts and terrifies. Its imaginative scenography, great acting and clever scenes captivate from beginning to end.

The show begins with Ester Natzijl on the theatre’s balcony, even before we take our seats. She looks and talks like a circus ringmaster, and she introduces the show flamboyantly and in different languages. We might think that because of the world-wide cuts in government funding for the arts there are no artists left, she explains. But “No!, there is one, only one artist left”, and we have the pleasure of seeing her tonight. It seems like this show will give us an insight into the near future, when all artists will be gone. Having roused our curiosity about this last artist, we walk the stairs to the small hall of the Rozentheater.

There we see Babiche Ronday in a fat suit and tiny bikini. The stage and the audience are effectively separated with barbed wire. Despite all the efforts made by contemporary artists to close the gap between audience and stage, these two young women gave up and literally turned the idea on its head. The ringmaster tells the fat woman to dance. A forced striptease follows. Because of the introduction of the show, this awkward choreography immediately raises a question: is this fat striptease dancer the last artist on planet Earth?

A power struggle between the ringmaster and this last artist painfully shows dependency, authority and tyranny at work. These sceptic two women really grasped what art could be like in a future. A confronting image, that hurts and terrifies.

On the surface, a show about subsidy cuts might seem superfluous. An audience going to a fringe festival already knows the value of art and is probably permeated with the power of theatre. But this performance shows the many layers in which this problem manifests itself. And its imaginative scenography, great acting and clever scenes captivated me from beginning till end. A lovable, cute puppet turns into a scary tyrant, and a ballet dancer with an inversed choreography. This performance shows how, with minimal means, an enormous world can be opened. And that way, it is a political indictment, a proof of creativity and the power of imagination at once.  

Props, by Ester Natzijl and Babiche Ronday, is an absolute must-see at the Amsterdam Fringe Festival. The only criticism is that this show was over way to soon! I hope they will make a longer show soon; I’ll be the first to reserve a ticket.