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BWW Review: ONE de MUSICAL | A PAINFUL JOURNEY THROUGH EGYPT ⭐️ at Studio's Aalsmeer

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"In this day and age, having the balls to produce an original piece for the theatre is to be applauded."

BWW Review: ONE de MUSICAL | A PAINFUL JOURNEY THROUGH EGYPT ⭐️ at Studio's Aalsmeer

Sometimes the life of a theatre critic is hard. Sometimes it's really hard. Unfortunately the latter is the case after seeing One the musical, a show which has been 20 years in the making.

In this day and age, having the balls to produce an original piece for the theatre is to be applauded. During Covid's 19 peak here in The Netherlands, with stricter regulations every month, it's amazing that this production dared going forward with its' premiere and run, with very limited audience capacity. The premiere event was clearly organized with lots of love and attention, which is always nice to see. The entourage and details on the foyer made the expectations high. Sadly, the event turned out to be better than the show.

On opening night (or afternoon in this case) it's starts off weird. Next to an actor in character explaining extra Covid rules (breaking of the fourth wall, not helpful), producer Roel Pieters (who also wrote the scripts, lyrics and general concept) found it necessary to give a speech prior to the show, which is uncommon, and frankly, gives you a more colored vision from the get-go.

Let's continue with the show itself. One the musical. Short synopsis: the Egyptian people start to rebel against the ones in power. There's slave labour and starvation. (This all is performed by a fully white cast, interesting to say the least, as production claims to be historically accurate). Throughout this storyline a love story develops. Grand vizier Hermioenoe (Jasper Kerkhof) wants to marry princess Mira (Nienke Latten) to gain more power. Her father King Cheops is in the middle. Sounds pretty familiar so far, doesn't it?

BWW Review: ONE de MUSICAL | A PAINFUL JOURNEY THROUGH EGYPT ⭐️ at Studio's Aalsmeer

Mira however is madly in love with her childhood friend Amon (Soy Kroon), who loves her right back, as portrayed in the cringeworthy song about sweet grapes. The smell. The taste. How they remind him of her. Shakespeare eat your heart out. The grape reference keeps being repeated.

The repeating of phrases happens a lot. The lover's beginning revolves about a song for Mira, by her best friends, who keep singing: you miss him. Same goes for the friends of Amon: you miss her. And in a third reprise, when Mira discovers Amon is lost in a sandstorm (total random plottwist) we hear it yet again. The audience has been given zero credit so far, we get the drift. The over-explanatory style is slightly irritating.

Then there's the totally bizarre song about being drunk. The only reason we would ever need this song to begin with, is to give space to the talented dancers and freerunners to do their thing.

Another major problem with this show is the lack of direction. What story are we trying to tell? Random dance sequences, random songs, bizarre plottwists.

BWW Review: ONE de MUSICAL | A PAINFUL JOURNEY THROUGH EGYPT ⭐️ at Studio's Aalsmeer

The LED-Box Theatre is a first. Throughout the auditorium and on stage are huge LED screens, where the scenery amongst other are being projected. However new, it's a fun gimmick, sometimes beautiful (the sand storm) but adds nothing else. The freerunners and acrobats in the story are cool, but don't add any extra oomph to the show, where the makers claim it's mostly about the impossible love story.

Vocally, Nienke and Soy as the star-crossed lovers are very good. Same goes for Jeroen Phaff as Cheops. If only this production would have spend more time on the book and hired a dramaturg. The emotional bond with the characters is none. There's hardly any character development. The role of Hermioenoe is just plain bizarre and all over the place.

The music is all over the place as well. It is so clearly missing a well-thought out structure, which is so important in musical theatre. There has to be a reason for a character to sing a particular song at a particular time.

BWW Review: ONE de MUSICAL | A PAINFUL JOURNEY THROUGH EGYPT ⭐️ at Studio's Aalsmeer

The costumes are wacky, colorful, staying accurate within the time period for some, for other they don't (sneakers?). Same goes for the wigs. All in all the lack of a clear direction results in this cacophony of everything, music, costumes, characters, storylines.

The hardworking cast of actors, singers, dancers, freerunners and acrobats deserved more. What a waste of the humongous investment. Theatre and the performing arts are more than throwing money at something, hoping it'll stick. It has a soul, a raison d'être, a heart. One the musical, unfortunately, possesses none of these traits.

For more info: www.onedemusical.nl

Photo credits: Axel Drenth


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