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In their business they can only be a number

Alles is Drama presents After the Rain

You’re frustrated, you work in a business where uniformity is the highest good, the world is about to end and you’re in desperate need of a smoke. Where do you go? To the roof of the office building. Apart from nicotine the staff have other needs, but what are they? The answer will be presented by student drama club Alles is Drama in After the Rain.

This play by Sergi Belbel, a Catalan-Spanish playwright, won the Molière award for Best Comedy in 1999. Yet American critics have been far from positive. “It is very difficult to see what the French found so funny, or to square the tough theatrical sophistication of the play I saw last time with the apparent pointlessness of After the Rain”, wrote art critic Alison Croggon a few years ago in her blog ‘theatre notes’.

“Ah, Americans”, responds the director of the Maastricht play, Sybrand van der Werf. “I don’t mean to dismiss the entire American population, but generally speaking they do have a completely different sense of humour. They’re more like ‘what you see is what you get’. And indeed, the play can be quite vulgar, but that’s all functional. If you don’t appreciate cynicism, you probably won’t enjoy After the Rain.”

Fortunately, Europeans are usually fans of black humour. “I love playing this part”, says actress and costume designer Anky Stiphout. “My character is incredibly bitchy. She hates everything except work. But this doesn’t mean she has no depth as a character. My ‘female managing director’ is just incapable of showing emotion.” The head of administration, on the other hand, played by Jelle Stiphout, seems to be full of emotion. His wife is leaving him, he can’t get custody of his daughter and is so desperate he decides he’d rather be a carrot than a working man.

The characters who prefer to be much more than that are not in luck. In their business they can only be a number, they don’t have names, and are called after their position, or – like the secretaries – after their hair colour. This is also reflected in the costumes, which Anky Stiphout and Moniek Vromen designed. “Uniformity was the principal idea. We discussed this with Sybrand and came to the conclusion that everyone would be wearing the same outfit. Wall Street meets prison. We’re very happy about how it all turned out.”

 

Iris Fraikin

After the Rain: 15, 16 and 17 December, Kumulus Theatre. Tickets: €3.50 members/€5 students/€7 non-students; reservations via allesisdrama@hotmail.com

 

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