This production of ‘Amsterdam’ would stand equal with many on BBC Radio 3, both for its content and production

Amsterdam

Written by Maya Arad Yasur

Directed by William Wilkinson

Review by Nick le Mesurier,

Leamington Courier

It takes a while to get into this audio play, but stick with it and the effect becomes ever more gripping.

A promising young Israeli violinist rents a flat in a fashionable part of present day Amsterdam. She is pregnant with her first child. But the flat has a terrible past, the secret of which is hinted at by the presence of an unpaid gas bill, dating back to 1944, delivered to the violinist by a reclusive old man living in the flat above. Along with interest over the years it is now worth 1700 euros. But who ran it up? And why wasn’t it paid? The answers lie in a tale of love and betrayal, of a Dutch Resistance heroine and a Jewish girl in hiding. Though it happened years ago, the effects of the unpaid bill, literally and metaphorically, accumulate, till the line between old injustices and present day prejudices blur.

Amsterdam is a complex, sophisticated drama that demands attentive listening. There are no characters as such, only voices, and names, names that echo down the years. Who, or what are they? As such the listener has to put aside expectations of what ‘normal’ theatre has to offer – characters, plot, scene and so on. The effect can be disconcerting, but while we can’t always grasp the nature of the parts, the whole of this production makes for something more.

The Loft has adapted to the straightened circumstances of lockdown by developing a strong line in audio drama. Of the good things that have come out of this last year or so I hope this is one that survives and grows, for it is more than a second best alternative to Iive theatre. Audio drama can take you to worlds that even the best live theatre can’t. This production would stand equal with many available on BBC Radio 3, for example, both for both its content and its production.

NICK LE MESURIER