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Evening of fun with relationship arguments in Family Game

Jacqueline Blom and Mark Rietman immediately arouse laughter and sadness as desperate children of divorced parents at the beginning of Family Game. However, the sharp tragicomedy gradually becomes more of a farce that is good for an evening of laughter.

In Family Game, Jacqueline Blom, Bas Hoeflaak and Annick Boer show their best side as actors, and I enjoyed Mark Rietman the most. The tragedy of the abandoned husband who more often resorted to means to extinguish his melancholy than to provide his wife with virile pleasure, degenerates into a delightful series of vicious jokes. These are wasted on no other actor as perfectly as Mark Rietman.

Even the reality, that the premiere of Family Game in The Hague on 19 December 2022 had to be cancelled due to an unfortunate fall of Rietman near his house, suits his role in writer Marijke Schermer's screenplay.

Wandering children

The story then: a "happy extended family" gathers for Christmas celebrations in "lovely, harmonious days" in a haunted holiday home in Scotland, still owned by divorced Elisabeth and Nicholas ('Nickel'), Jacqueline Blom and Mark Rietman. Both are accompanied by their new partners, busy blabbermouth Hugo (Bas Hoeflaak) and a bashful teacher Odilia (Annick Boer).

The former also takes his - younger - children with him. He himself is also younger and still "virile" with his older partner Elisabeth; but as a piano teacher and "especially coach" with not too much intellect and suffer a tantrum a grateful prey for Nicholas' countless stabs under and over water. Who will suddenly, despite his, according to the ex, limited physical abilities, once again become a father with the new partner. Resulting in the predictable reaction of the already not very controlled Elisabeth. Who also has to deal with a - to Nicholas - jaw-dropping new partner.

Enough ingredients for a fun evening, especially as the actors also play the roles of the four children. Ultimately, the story of the kids as victims of their own and new parents' separations stands more on its own. Even without them, we do see how childish the older ones behave. However, the youngsters do contribute to the fun with their own entanglements, so the initial tragicomedy directed by Corien van der Zwaag - along with Schermer - gradually becomes more of a farce.

Seen: premiere Family game by More Theater Productions, 12 January 2023 at Stadsschouwburg Haarlem; still until 16 April 2023 enjoy across the country. (Also a interview with the actors).

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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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