Friday, 10 July 2009


Went to The Hague last night to see a hit-musical, "Ciske de Rat". It is based on a novel by Piet Bakker about a street urchin between the two World Wars in an unnamed Dutch city. His life is turned around by attending a new school, where he gains many friends, including that of his teacher. His home situation is dire, with his mother making him work in a pub at night. When his father tries to make a clean break after meeting up with a good woman things appear to be on the up. However, tragedy strikes when Ciske's mother rips up a book, given to him by a sick classmate. With the red mist coming down, he flings a knife - which kills his mother. After a stint behind bars, Ciske is released into a new life. His ever-absent dad has found a new woman.
Parallel to this childhood story is Ciske's adventures as a man, when he is mobilised in 1939 as the clouds of war gather. He meets up with his old schoolteacher, and his friends and foes from class. When the Nazis invade, he is severely hurt, but escapes death only by virtue of a statuette of the Virgin Mary, which was given to him by the prison chaplain.

Ciske de Rat is a quintessentially Dutch story, and a 1984 movie on the book was a blockbuster success. I had my doubts at the time whether songs were the appropriate medium, and had them before going to this performance last night. Fortunately, the show was fantastic in all respects, kept well to the storyline (always difficult and dicey in theatre and film) and had some very funny moments, as well as the tragic ones.


Jeannette said...

Sounds like a really good show, something I would enjoy.

Sybil said...

That sounds like a good play, one that I would have enjoyed. sorrythe wetaher has been so horrid sinse you got home. fingers crossed that the western Isles will have a lovely long summer...just waiting for you to return. Thank youso much for all the great phoographs these past couple of weeks. i know that envy is a sin!! so I won't say I have envied you and you Father these long great walks over the dales but only wish I could be following in your footsteps !!
Love Sybil x