Claude Magnier's greatest triumph, rewritten by Lanting
Of all the successful farces performed by John Lanting's Theater van de Lach, the translation/writing process for this, "Een Trouwring Mag Niet Knellen", proves to be a rather an amusing story by itself: after a particularly stressful period in his life, John Lanting picked Claude Magnier's "Blaise" as his next project based only on a short summary. When he began working on the translation, he soon realized the play was not working out, but the rights had already been sold and the title was in the proces of being marketed. So he decided to take the aforementioned summary as a guide line and write his own play around that. Watching the play with this knowledge in mind, one immediately begins to see where Lanting was stretching and bending the material to suit his own purpose. For instance, he appears before a closed curtain at the start to introduce the setting and characters and explain some of the tricks of his trade, like why his characters always live in high rise penthouses or hotels (so they tend to leave the door open and people can walk right in).
Boudewijn van Benthuysen (John Lanting) is a nobleman's heir and would be painter who pays the rent (barely) by selling broomsticks door to door. His cunning girlfriend Mathilde (Margreet Heemskerk) comes up with a scheme to marry him off to the dim daughter of wealthy business man Karel Klapwijk (Flip Heeneman), with whom Mathilde also happens to be having an affair (because the young girl has the money, Boudewijn the title). So, in effect, Mathilde actually wants her one lover to marry the the other one's offspring. Fans of the classic children's television serial "Kunt U mij de weg naar Hamelen vertellen, Meneer" might get a kick out of seeing Lanting and Heemskerk, who played two of the nicest and law abiding fairy tale characters in that series, as two conniving, promiscuous would be criminals. In order to impress his fiancée to be, Boudewijn uses up the last of his cash to rent an apartment from a woman off on a winter holiday (there's always someone going on/and/or coming back from a ski trip in these plays), as well as a maid (whom he cannot afford to pay). Enter Teuntje de Klerk as Marie, a smart yet naive girlie woman from the north of the Netherlands, who becomes an audience favorite as soon as she walks on stage.
Keeping in mind that Lanting was desperately in need of time and jokes when rewriting Magnier's material, a lot of stuff that happens does seem to be padding to the meager framework: several characters repeatedly break the fourth (always a sign of desperation) and a lot of scenes seem to be going nowhere. For instance, when the Klapwijk family first arrives, Boudewijn had just been forced to take off his pants (because he sat on one of his paintings) and is now wearing a plaid scarf. So he goes into a very long 'Scotish' dance while his guests just sit there and say nothing. Of course th dancing and shouting routine is one of Lantin's specialties, a recurring element in each one of his plays. Usually he has to pass some information to one character without having anyone else catch on, so he breaks into song, starts imitating an orchestra or does bits of an opera. In this case, Lanting fell back on his great love, the Mediterranean Tango (a subject he started to give lectures on after his retirement from from acting).
The play switches gears when Klapwijk asks Boudewijn to paint a nude lady for him. He also wants to use the apartment for a clandestine encounter with his mistress. Thinking the man means his own Mathilde, at first Boudewijn refuses. Then it turns out the old man is wooing a Spanish flamenco dancer and before you know it, there are women hiding in every nook and cranny of the place: Marie the maid and Mathilde the mastermind, both willing to pose for the painting, Klapwijk's daughter who has fallen for Boudewijn, her aunt who wants to discus the marriage arrangements and, of course, the owner of the house returning early with a broken leg. During an interview accompanying the recent DVD release, Lanting explains how uncertain he was of his cobbled together script and that when it turned out to be another big success all over the country (and later on on TROS television) he counted his lucky stars. Ironicaly, it became the most successful adaption of a Claude Magnier play ever. If only the Frenchman had known...
7 out of 10
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?