Despite the substantial success of Van Oekel's Discohoek, the VPRO did not grant the makers a second season. Instead, they commissioned three feature length TV specials. The regular team of writers/producers/directors Wim van der Linden, Gied Jaspars, Ellen Jens & Wim T. Schippers immediately began work on their biggest project to date, "De Ondergang van de Onan", and in doing so used up most of the budget for all three programs on this first one. Watching them all in a row it defiantly shows.
Has-been but still big-headed director Dick Bakker (Rijk de Gooyer) persuades producer Bosman (Emile van Konijnenburg) to put on a stage show based on (according to him) a lesser known work by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Bosman comes up with the name of the ship, Onan, which he demands to be put into the title. Not because of the Biblical reference or the alliteration, but because his wife is called Anna and his own first name is Onno.
They seek out their players in a seaman's café, and end up casting all the regulars from De "Fred Haché Show", "Barend is Weer Bezig" and the aforementioned Discohoek to make sure to get bums on seats. Haché (Fred Touw) presents himself as an experienced ship's captain, Barend Servet (IJf Blokker) is offered the position of steward, Van Oekel himself (Dolf Brouwers) is placed in charge of entertainment and Van der Pik (Jaap Bar) becomes the marconist.
In between and during rehearsals, Van Oekel & Servet perform a couple of new songs based on their respective catchphrases. Meanwhile, Haché, is telling off color jokes to anyone who'll listen. Of course this frustrates the actual thespians (Nancy Coppens & Theo Serré) to no end. But at least Van Oekel's presence leads to the show being instantly sold out.
Unfortunately director Bakker has come up with a rather unorthodox staging: the audience can only see what is happening in the Onan's dining/ballroom and none of the scenes that take place elsewhere on the ship. The TV viewers do get to see most of the other goings on as the fine line between fact and fiction becomes blurred. It appears as if the Onan is an actual seaworthy vessel. Either the entire theater is located aboard the doomed ship or there is enough room backstage to fit in a cruise liner and make it float.
Naturally the audience doesn't understand what's going on and becomes restless when having to wait for scenes on end while nothing happens on stage. Therefore Sjef van Oekel decides to take over the show and bring on musical acts such as Spooky & Sue. During the break, Bosman is dismayed to find out that more than half of the audience has gotten free tickets.
Bakker takes a desperate gamble by skipping part of the play and moving right into the ballroom scene that marks the beginning of the disaster. To fill in while the actors make an unscheduled costume change, Van Oekel brings on a stripper and some nude dancers. Unfortunately Bakker neglects to tell the audience to brace for impact and soon the disaster engulfs everyone. Of course big budget, star studded disaster movies were all the rage in the Seventies, and this is the Van der Linden/Jaspars/Jens & Schippers version, using their regular troupe of crazy characters to draw in the audience.
6 out of 10
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