By Dave Thomas
Naked in the bath
At least I might have been a few decades back when this round little building was the local bathhouse before it became a thriving independent theatre.
Wandering in through the front door the atmosphere was like a village hall in the pre-internet age. A foldable table at the entrance where the owner’s daughter collected tickets and then round to the right an elliptical bar where the showers used to be. I swear no two chairs in the bar are the same.
It reminded me of a student bar we visited during our honeymoon in Prague and, appropriately enough, one of the barmen was a Czech! The bar lazily opens up into the theatre area: an intimate space in the former waiting room that happily seats about 60 people. There is no stage but an open area at the front where the play unfolds.
Photos by John Richardson
Just before the play started a bard-like voice called us to take our seats. We overcame our British reserve and plumped down on the front row. As the stage is not elevated the action was literally at our feet (I joke not one of the props was just two of my feet – size 13- away).
We were treated to an evening of comedy by the Rotterdam English Speaking Theatre, who did a one-night-in-Amsterdam performance of The Scottish Play. The story is about a theatre company who have performed every Shakespeare play accept Macbeth because the artistic director refuses to put on a play so cursed. Against his wishes the company nevertheless decides to perform it and fate ensues.
Thanks to our front row seats I was completely immersed in the story. My favourite characters were the three witches. Thanks to an act of revenge they were played by the production director’s ex wives: the bitch who taunted him with access to their child, the psychotherapist who dotingly regarded him more as her patient, and the nymph who fell for the nobody American reality star who’d been cast as Macbeth.
The best part? When the psychotherapist ex-wife walked in and tried to do a therapy session on her former husband. She firmly bound him to his chair (I briefly thought we were in for a lesson in Shades of Grey), berated him like a small child, and rewarded his every utterance with a snide remark and a coloured post-it she slapped on him with such vehemence that I started to inch away.
Photos by John Richardson
Afterwards in the bar I briefly chatted and laughed with the psychotherapist and was relieved to discover that her haggered ex-husband on stage is actually a relaxed Brit who’s moving back to Blighty soon.
The action over we chatted with the theatre’s owner Mike Manicardi. A thoroughbred thespian since his youth, he has been the owner and artistic director of the Badhuistheater for the past 30 years. He is a typical cultural entrepreneur with a finger in many pies because the show must go on. Besides hosting a variety of plays the theatre is home to poetry and jazz events, business meetings, and a variety of local clubs. It’s a rich and eclectic blend of grassroots community and international buzz with lashings of fun.
Talking of which, if you enjoyed Britsoc’s Shakestravaganza back in April then you might like to try As you Like It, an evening of Shakespeare karaoke at the Badhuistheater on 20 August.
Shakespeare KARAOKE 20% discount for Britsoc Members