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Los Incontados: a bizarre terrarium of small-human suffering in a cloud of cocaine and confetti.

Colombia's biggest export not only allows Urk fishermen to work long hours, or Amsterdam Zuidas lawyers to keep up with the global 24-hour economy. The white gold also dissolves the nasal septum of the cream of world culture, and costs thousands of lives in the country itself. That had to lead to a theatrical performance, and it did. The result can be seen at the Holland Festival.

Los Incontados, Un Triptico is called. I saw it on Friday 31 May and did not know what I was experiencing. On Wednesday, at the opening of the Holland Festival, we were still craning our necks in front of the 50-metre-wide stage of the Head & The Load, in the Rabo Hall of the building I refuse to call ITA, the stage had been reduced to a viewing box of barely six metres. Inside that box, sealed off from us by a sheet of glass: the victims of the cocaine economy - children, ordinary workers, a farmer and a singer.


So what the company Mapa Teatro brought from Bogotá was a life-size terrarium full of real victims. That singer, namely, was a real one. He once belonged to the court of drug baron Escobar and lost not only his backing band and his family in a bomb attack, but also his sense of rhythm and singing voice. His valiant attempts to continue singing despite this are painful. They could also be moving, but the makers were not aiming for that. Or they were, but were hampered by technical problems.

Because with such an hour of watching a terrarium, you should be fully focused as a spectator. Then - at best - it could have provided a kind of experience like the film Roma, which has partly the same theme as this performance. But because commentary texts were spoken in Spanish, you were constantly distracted by the surtitles, which also seemed to lose their way regularly during the performance on Friday. It created an extra distance, and that was very unfortunate. This made it a very, very long hour in which we had to watch awkward amateurs being themselves in a universe closed off from us.

Too concise summary

The makers, brother and sisters of the Abderhalden family, of mixed Colombian-Swiss descent, trained at prestigious institutions in France, including with theatre legends Peter Brook and Jacques Lecoq. From there, they also knew William Kentridge, which is how they ended up in Amsterdam, so now they are showing an extremely compressed summary of three performances they previously made separately.

For me, and quite a few others in the audience, that summary was perhaps a little too savage an introduction to the work of the now Bogota-based company. Perhaps it would have been better to try out the individual parts first? We may experience it later. Mapa Teatro has been admitted to the international festival circuit thanks to this introduction. So we are going to see more of it.

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Los Incontados, Un Triptico, seen at the Holland Festival on 31 May. Information and booking.

Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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