Circus of the Rain: A review

By Rosalie Dielesen

— Writing can be a tedious process. Think about how long it took you to finish your longest piece! 10 hours? Maybe 20 or even 100? You are not even coming close to the over 1000 hours it took for Pieter Buis, a third-year Humanities major from Amsterdam University College (AUC) to write his musical “Circus of the Rain”.

The musical premiered on April 12 at the Oostblok theater in Amsterdam Oost, and shows the effects of Global Warming on the city. The play revolves around a group of circus performers trying to survive in a post apocalyptic scenario, and documents the relationship between Thierry Decker, a circus director, and Marta Volkov, an artist in the circus and Thierry’s wife. The two have a child together, Mary Decker , who later becomes the leading character of the play, and a sign of hope for the future. As Marta dies during childbirth, Thierry and another circus artist Luna take care of Mary. A feud between Thierry and Tonny, who controls the Red Light District, becomes a central point of the play later on.

The musical’s characters and the relationships between them were of great complexity, leaving lots of room for interpretation, but creating confusion at times: the death of Thierry Decker came out of nowhere. However, all actors involved delivered outstanding performances.

Sophie Smeets, a third-year Humanities major, played the role of Tonny Fink, the head of the Red Light District .Tonny is a threatening woman with an even more dangerous attitude. Smeets said: “I loved to play Tonny, as I usually play a more innocent character, whereas now I had the possibility to climb inside the head of a more edgy persona”. Smeets’ strong hoarse voice created an acoustic contrast to the softer voice of Nina Poort, a second-year Science student, who played Thierry Decker. The fact that she embodied a male role gave an interesting twist to her character.

Anza Manto, a second-year Social Science student, played two roles: Buzz, and Theodoor Decker, Thierry’s father. Manto managed to enact the two fundamentally different roles in a convincing manner. The fact that Buzz – played by Manto on all fours – is in fact a dog, was unclear at first. However, according to Buis, “the dog was used for comic relief, to give some variety to the theater group”.

Overall Buis, as well as the audience, seemed very satisfied with the performances. By putting enormous amounts of time and effort into developing their characters, the performers gave a personal touch to the play and allowed for the audience to identify with each of the roles.  Even though the story line was hard to follow at times, because the piece was fully sung, occasionally making individual lines hard to understand, the message of Circus of the Rain came across well. An amazing accomplishment considering that the team put such a performance together alongside their studies.

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