BWW Review: Amazing Acting in PALM SPRINGS (****) at DeLaMar Theater During Nationaal Theaterweekend
If someone offered me to pay money to take a look at another family's arguments for two and a half hours, I'd probably decline. This is exactly what PALM SPRINGS does: portray a family on Christmas Eve who quarrel on and on. And the translated production of OTHER DESERT CITIES does this with success. The production is on a limited run until February 5 at the DeLaMar Theater in Amsterdam. I visited the show during last weekend's BGL Nationaal Theaterweekend at a sold-out Saturday night performance.
The National Theater Weekend is an initiative with the aim to inspire non-regular theatregoers to visit the theatre. During this weekend over 60 theatres organise tours, workshops and other activities, and all shows are priced at €10,- or less. The DeLaMar Theater organised tours on Saturday afternoon and participated in the weekend by lowering the prices for the performance of PALM SPRINGS. The DeLaMar Theater is loaded with photographs inspired by theatre, showing that multiple forms of art can be combined very easily. Additionally the tour went through the backstage area of the theatre, including dressing rooms and the wings of the large auditorium, which currently houses CISKE DE RAT.
Of course the main attraction of the theatre during the weekend was PALM SPRINGS on Saturday night and a full house showed that the interest in theatre is large as ever. PALM SPRINGS is a play about the rich, conservative Californian family Wyeth, playing in 2004. Daughter Brooke (Tjitske Reidinga) returns to her parent's home to celebrate Christmas after years of absence. She has taken her book about her youth, parents, political disagreements and most of all a terrible happening that made the family drift apart with her. The forthcoming publication of her book makes the tension between her, her parents, her brother and her alcoholic aunt rise. The story is a recognisable tale about family relationships, political differences in an era dominated by terrorism, trust and acceptance.
With a cast consisting of only five actors, every performer has perform excellently in order to allow the piece to succeed. This was almost the case. Reidinga's performance as Brooke was exceptionally emotional which is a good case for a depressed, frustrated writer who is constantly in a conflict with her family. However, in some situations her emotional performance felt a bit exaggerated. Han Kerckhoffs, who played the family's father Lyman, did a phenomenal job in portraying a man who cannot handle his feelings extremely well. Mother Polly (Geert de Jong), an angry, arrogant woman who seems more often angry than nice but also clearly struggles with the situation, and brother Trip (Frederik Brom), a TV presenter who tries to make all tension disappear since he just wants to celebrate Christmas, also play their roles well. The odd duck in the play is aunt Silda, played by a phenomenal Ria Eimers. For every new disagreement between other characters, she knows how to deliver some comic relief in the otherwise pretty heavy play.
The very simple set contributes to the story of the play: the whole play takes play in one day and only in the living room of family Wyeth. One of the golden rules of acting - never face away from the crowd - is cleverly gotten around by placing mirrors on the back of the stage. This means the actors can face each other without forcing their positions on stage, but the faces of the actors are still visible for the audience. This clever design of the stage by Tom Schenk and directing by Antoine Uitdehaag (who also translated the script) contributes much to the play. The few songs in the play are cleverly fit into the story, regarding both lyrics and musical style. All these supporting elements contribute to the play as a whole but still keep the audience focused on the amazing acting.
The amazing actors make this play a guaranteed enjoyable night out for anyone. The story is built up well toward the end, the actors fit their characters really well and the production on the whole is an amazing rendition of this piece. Since the play will terminate in two weeks, I would recommend everyone to buy tickets as soon as possible!
PALM SPRINGS can be seen at the DeLaMar Theater in Amsterdam until Sunday February 5. For more information and tickets, please visit https://delamar.nl/voorstellingen/palm-springs/.