De Moraalridder at The Korzo in The Hague

What I like about the Korzo Theater is the sheer number of different things you see there. It is primarily a dance venue but I have seen lots of good music, performance art and even visual art but I have never seen a play, until tonight. That’s the good news, because I do like a good play, especially an absurdist one like tgEcho’s De Moraalridder.

The bad news was that this play was in Dutch. Hmmm. We normally only cover English language or language-neutral events and my due diligence had failed on this occasion not realising it was a text based performance.

Now, I know it would be unreasonably of me to complain, or even be surprised, about a Dutch theatre in the Dutch capital with Dutch actors performing a play in Dutch but because of that I found it hard to follow some of it. However, I did get the gist and as a lot of the show’s strength was in the visual presentation I just about feel qualified to review it.

De Moraalridder – or for those of you whose Dutch is worse than mine (and there can’t be many of you) – means The Moral Knight. This was the story of a crusader boldly striding out, complete with plastic sword and not quite shining waste-paper-basket helmet, bent on putting the world to rights. The Companion is more down to earth, accepting things as they are. I guess the story could be summed up as the struggle between idealism and pragmatism.

Among other things, there are powerful arguments in favour of animal rights enhanced by a life-size, very realistic half a pig. There are some great ideas and some brilliant moments. There is a point where the stage is lit entirely by the light coming from an open fridge and I like the Deliveroo pizza being dropped onto the stage from a great height. For me, one of the most powerful moments was towards the end when the Companion, all frizzy hair and demonic looks, holds a plastic sword to the throat of De Ridder while threatening her in a very scary, raspy whisper – very Stephen King or The Exorcist.

The two actors, Lotte Dunselman and Anna Schoen, gave tireless and at times frenetic performances. There were lots of little off-script asides, which were quite funny but it’s a pity I wasn’t able to understand more of it.

Despite this being only a two-hander, and only playing the Korzo for one night, this was a full-blown, ambitious production with a large and complex set, including a full size back-cloth depicting snowy mountain peaks, five three-meter-high plywood flats, a stepladder, bits of faux leather furniture, the aforementioned fridge and pig and a Godot-like tree, oh, and a potted plant.

De Moraalridder is about half-way through a national tour and I would certainly say it was worth seeing, but you will need reasonable Dutch to get the full benefit.   Michael Hasted   11th January 2019

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