Hanneke Paauwe’s ‘Falsch!’: cruel women and their weird tales
The power of a good story. Never mind if other things on stage aren’t that striking, there’s always that story to listen to. That’s the thought that popped up in my head, after I’d seen Falsch!, by Dutch writer and theatre director Hanneke Paauwe. It’s a theatre production that has its flaws, but by telling strange and cruel stories the three actresses on stage nevertheless wickedly capture their listeners’ attention.
Hanneke Paauwe grew up in the Netherlands, but she has been working in Belgium for several years now. She made her début as a writer with a collection of short stories in ’99 (Bijten in het toeval) and published her first novel in 2003 (Venusvingers), and has been working with Flemish theatre companies such as Victoria, Laïka, Bronks and Het Paleis. For Falsch! Paauwe studied the lives of famous cruel women such as Medusa, Medea, Susan Atkins (who was part of the Manson-gang that murdered Sharon Tate in ’69) and bloodthirsty countess Erzebeth Bathory.
But that doesn’t mean Falsch! has become a somber parade of serial killers and their shocking tales. This certainly isn’t the female version of Abattoir Fermé. Falsch! rather is an intriguing collection of weird and somewhat surreal stories, told by three strangely dressed women. Never shocking, always springing from Paauwe’s unusual fantasy, more than once even funny.
That’s the good news. I’m not sure though if Paauwe has found the right way to put her stories to the stage. The visual backdrop she and Sara Dykmans created for these tales, by means of decor and costumes, looked like a strange potpourri to me. She didn’t succeed in finding visual images that were as striking as her tales. Or in finding ways to make an interesting play out of all of this that comes down to more than just three weird women telling stories. But it sure was a joy to listen to those stories.
More info on Falsch! (produced by Villanella, Cinderalla & kc nOna) and a tour schedule here.