STET The English Theatre’s Greenhouse in The Hague

The trouble with the ubiquitous live-steaming we have all had to put up with for more than a year now is that it is barely better than nothing. You might as well be watching YouTube.

Going to the theatre is an event and there are more factors involved than just the play or the acting or whatever. The space in which you watch the performance is important; it creates an atmosphere, a sense of place. It doesn’t even have to be a conventional theatre as was perfectly demonstrated by STET’s latest production, Greenhouse, which took place in the wonderful Hofje van Wouw in the centre of The Hague. This 17th century alms-house set around idyllic gardens, replete with box hedges, lemon trees and glorious hydrangeas provided, along with the adjacent chapel, the ideal location for this summer evening’s entertainment. And the theme, too, fitted in perfectly. Love was what it was all about.

We all met in the walled courtyard just inside the gate before being led off to the various performance areas. First up was English actress Joanna Lucas who, with an elegant white dovecot in the background, gave an extract from her one-woman show, Antigone Alone. Joanna skilfully and dramatically led us through the story of Antigone and her sister Ismene witnessing the blinding of their father, Oedipus, strung up between two pillars. Not many laughs there.

There were more classical pillars involved in the next segment when personable Israeli storyteller Raphael Rodan deftly compared and contrasted his own romantic involvement with his partner to that of Samson and Delilah.

Love of a different kind was portrayed in the chapel by Robin Nimanong whose act was half dance, half monologue and half strip-tease. Resplendent in a fetching one piece leotard cum fishnet tights and stiletto heels Robin gave us an insight into his own personal view of love.

After a short interval we were back in the chapel for the grand finale of the evening with the fine music of Mushroom Mosis, the sonic expression of singer/songwriter Damani Leidsman and guitarist Danny van Dien . From Suriname, Damani’s idiosyncratic music and fine voice was part gospel, part jazz with strong influences from the Caribbean and South America. An engaging performance.

A very pleasant way to spend a summer evening which made us all realise just how much we had missed due to the restrictions on live performance. This was the first STET event we had been at for nearly eighteen months and it was good to be back.   Michael Hasted  4th July 2021

Listen to the ArtsTalk Radio programme which includes (@11.00 mins) a piece on the event and interviews with STET’s artistic director Tom Dello and actress Joanna Lucas.