Ola Mafaalani. That's a very fierce one. So you can never ignore that. The human is so full of passion and emotion that all her stage work, because she is a director, cannot possibly leave you cold. At least, so it was until recently, with me personally finding her last play at Toneelgroep Amsterdam 'Hemel boven Berlijn' the most beautiful, because also the most poetic.
In recent years, since she became leader of the Noord Nederlands Toneel in Groningen, the moralistic side of Ola's thinking has emerged a bit more emphatically. It was so with Medea, her Groningen debut, it is so with '11 Minutes', the play she has now made it into the selection of The Dutch Theatre Festival. And morality, of course, is not a bad thing at all, especially after the queen of amoral postmodern theatre, Joan Nederlof, had called for it in her 'State of the Theatre', less than an hour earlier. But you can also have so much morality that anything that goes against it only makes you angry. And angry, so the performance '11 Minutes' is mostly. Angry at the sex industry, angry at the men, angry at the slave trade and angry at the prostitutes.
And what was it all about? About Paul Coelho, the writer who wrote a little romance book in which a prostitute gets involved with a man who doesn't even want to fuck her. It is a rather clichéd fact, and indeed it very much fulfils the dream many men have about visiting prostitutes: that they are ánders, that therefore the whore does love them, and that therefore they are not customers in a commercial transaction.
Easy to kick under, that image, but Mafaalani goes a lot further. She and her players have delved so deeply into the caverns of the international sex industry that it could only make them all very angry.
Rightly so too, but that does not make it theatre. Not even if you show images in it that belong to the sex industry: nudity, sexy lingery, pubic hair, burlesque. The only result is that so much bitter seriousness not only makes you lose the desire to laugh, but also the lust an sich. If that was the intention: mission accomplished. But then I find that a great pity. And so does my wife.