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Fringe notes (3): 5 Questions to Tim Honnef, Dutchman at the Fringe #edfringe

On Saturday morning, I look into a Underbelly where coffee has yet to be invented in a small room to Jonas Müller Regrets Writing This F*cking Masterpiece. It is the small-scale, curious but also intriguing solo performance by the young Dutch theatre maker Tim Honnef.

Tim immediately asks uncomfortable questions of the audience ("What do you do to get rid of unpleasant thoughts?", "Have you welsh on Facebook?") that we (me at least) try to answer honestly. Which is actually weird, because Tim himself does pretend. As if by accident, that is, he is here in front of us and will try to read out the stage text of the Jonas Müller in hiding. The result is a curious mix of a touching story about lost jeud love, self-doubt and regret, and a kind of meta-theatre in which the usual illusion is deliberately broken: look it's all just a made-up script. Or something like that.

But I don't want to talk about that now. The reason I picked this performance is that Tim Honnef is one of the handful of Dutch people performing at the Edinburgh Fringe. So to my credit, I asked him a few questions by e-mail a few days earlier.

Is this your first performance at the Fringe?

(TH) "No. It is now my fourth show. I came to the Fringe in 2012 to try a comedy show. Then I came back in 2014 and 2015 with a solo show and am playing my now third solo show at this year's Fringe."

Why did you want to play here?

(TH) "Several reasons. First of all, you have a hugely open audience here. People love coming to see experimental theatre. Apart from that, the chance to play and work on the show for almost thirty days in a row is a hugely positive thing. The last reason is that I got an offer from Underbelly and I couldn't refuse it."

Was it difficult to find a place?

(TH) "At the Edinburgh Fringe, there are basically three options for finding a venue. You can rent a venue in a building, as I did in 2014 and 2015, you can get a venue at the Free Fringe and perform there for free (although you always have to put in some money for marketing and so on) and there are also some larger theatres that actually programme performances. For a fee for marketing and a rental fee, you are then included in their programming."

"This year I got an offer from the great Underbelly (one of The Big Four, along with Pleasance, Assembly and Gilded Balloon). Very cool, because they get huge applications and to be part of their programming is fantastic. I really struggled for that in previous years."

How do you promote your show?

(TH) "Social media, flyering, posters, billboards and you talk to people on the street. Also guest appearances. And this year there were also people from the audience who took flyers to give to friends and acquaintances."

How is your experience so far?

(TH) "I am having a great time this year. Even more so than the years before. The Fringe is known for its difficulty in always getting audiences into your venue, as there are over 3,200 performances. So far, I've had a good audience every day, two reviews have come out (one very good and one very bad, water and fire) and the audience reactions to the performance are exactly what I had hoped for. I also can't wait to play the show daily here and hope to continue it in both the UK and the Netherlands after the Fringe."

Reviews

More reviews have since appeared. I pick a few quotes:

The effect is at first discombobulating, and the artifice through which the story is being told feels deliberately distancing. However, this passes and the piece reaches a touching and clever, if not wholly unexpected, finale.<span class="su-quote-cite"><a href="http://www.britishtheatreguide.info/reviews/jonas-muller-r-underbelly-cowg-13112" target="_blank">British Theatre Guide</a></span>
He's not a bad storyteller by any means, and at times it's an almost hypnotic experience. [...] But by the end we're no closer to discovering whether Jonas Müller is the last of the true romantics, or belongs in prison. He remains completely enigmatic and out of reach. This show is many things, but a masterpiece is stretching it. (Festmag)<span class="su-quote-cite"><a href="https://www.festmag.co.uk/theatre/103346-jonas-mller-regrets-writing-this-fcking-masterpiece" target="_blank">Festmag</a></span>
“Endearingly ramshackle show about struggling to engage” en noteert verder: “And by constantly shifting between his themes, testing our patience with (presumably intentionally) long, repetitive explanations and sticking doggedly to his homespun delivery, Honnef sets us the quite tough challenge of not giving in to exactly the kind of disinterest he’s describing. They give his show its distinctive character, but ultimately undermine much that it’s trying to say. Nevertheless, it’s a warm-hearted, poetic hour, fragile and poignant.<span class="su-quote-cite"><a href="https://edinburghfestival.list.co.uk/article/83292-jonas-muller-regrets-writing-this-f*cking-masterpiece/" target="_blank">The List</a></span>

Leo Bankersen

Leo Bankersen has been writing about film since Chinatown and Night of the Living Dead. Reviewed as a freelance film journalist for the GPD for a long time. Is now, among other things, one of the regular contributors to De Filmkrant. Likes to break a lance for children's films, documentaries and films from non-Western countries. Other specialities: digital issues and film education.View Author posts

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