De Warme Winkel
Tanizaki Review | Theaterkrant 2015
The novel The Key (Tanizaki, 1886-1965) is built up from excerpts from the diary of an older man who one day decides to write, without any reticence whatsoever, about his sexual needs. Knowing that his wife could read the diary, he leaves the key somewhere she can easily find it. The man’s notes alternate with diary entries from his wife. In De Warme Winkel’s Tanizaki, these diary excerpts are interspersed with excerpts from the actors’ own personal diaries.
The tension in the book is heightened when a third person, the younger man Kimura, enters the story. An extraordinary relationship triangle forms, full of unstated sexual tension. The link between the three characters in the book and the three actors on the stage soon becomes clear.
But not before De Warme Winkel have introduced a generous helping of chaos. As the audience traipse in, Vincent Rietveld, Ward Weemhoff and Mara van Vlijmen are still frantically trying to get the scenery set up. In a state of cheery panic (‘We start at eight thirty, right?’) stuff flies around the stage before the show proper can actually get going. An attractive whirlwind of pure energy.
De Warme Winkel themselves came up with the term ‘oeuvre pieces’ for this genre they have invented. Plays in which the work, life and times of an artist – in this case Tanizaki – are reflected in the mirror of today. These plays are made up of separate scenes (which they call ‘acts’), stitched together in an associative way by means of a common theme or topic. Direction in this case was provided by Jetse Batelaan. Japanese koto player Makiko Goto sits and plays with her back to the audience throughout most of the performance.
De Warme Winkel don’t worry too much about consistency in their performance style, which is exuberant and aimed directly at the audience one moment and withdrawn and abstract – almost mystical – the next. The only thing that counts: as long as it is done with one hundred percent conviction. In this way, they are able to approach their subject from multiple perspectives.
In using The Key, they have found the ideal form to bring Tanizaki’s themes slap-bang up to date. Their own diary excerpts – either projected on the paper backdrop or read aloud from a MacBook – provide insights into the different actors’ very different experiences of creating the production. Fortunately, the focus here is not on how the production was realised, but on how the relations between its creators shifted and turned, elevating the story beyond a mere personal narrative that would be of interest only to fellow creators. The production contains an intriguing game of attract and repel in which false assumptions, blind spots and jealousy all play a role – a development that even manages to throw a different light on the hilarious opening, when the three actors interacted with each other so casually and freely.
Where Tanizaki may at first look like it is going to be a hilarious ode to Japan, it eventually becomes a personal, intimate story about an exceptional triangle relationship: their own. Full of poignant, embarrassing revelations, tranquil scenes, aesthetic inventiveness and lots of laughs.
When at the end koto player Makiko Goto turns away from her instrument to face us and tell us, in her own diary excerpts read aloud in faltering English, about her experiences with this bizarre theatre group, the circle takes us back to where we started – Japan. In Tanizaki, De Warme Winkel have pulled off a clever theatrical feat.
© Theaterkrant 2015
Under 18 years old: 3€
Under 30 years old: 5€
Performance in English
In recent years, De Warme Winkel have devoted themselves to producing what they call “work-pieces”, in which they look at an artist’s life and work through a modern-day lens. After Majakovski, the most recent artist to be chosen by this Dutch company is the writer Junichiro Tanizaki. Tanizaki’s work is centred on an incisive and necessarily pessimistic portrait of western society, revealing an almost pornographic form of human existence that both tires and disillusions the world. On their return to Teatro Maria Matos, De Warme Winkel will delve into the idiosyncratic and contradictory universe of one of the greatest writers in Japanese literature.