representation of discomfort

Three years ago, Marek Lucas Regnild wrote a devastating novel about the relationship between a veterinarian and a then-very young girl with her “best darling.” The stage version of Ivo van Hove also tears the spectator apart.

The audience was still searching for a place in the auditorium of the International Theater Company in Amsterdam when the show began on Sunday afternoon. The background music was “My Generation” by The Who and “Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou Reed. On the platform, which was covered with straw, a veterinarian prepared to examine two cows. Wear arm-length plastic gloves. The farmer stood and watched. Life as it is, on a hot summer day.

the essence

  • Dear Favorite is a stage adaptation by Ivo van Hove of the book of the same name by Mariki Lukas Reinefeld.
  • It premiered last weekend at the International Theater in Amsterdam.
  • The story revolves around the relationship between a veterinarian and a young girl.

The two cows are actually present throughout the show. Their names, Dora and Trix, are on the cast list. They are the silent and sympathetic witnesses to the drama unfolding before their eyes. Her favorite novel by Marieke Lukas Rijnfeld was published in 2020. It was her second novel, after An Evening of Disquiet, for which she also won the International Booker Prize in 2020.

My Dear Favorite tells of the relationship between a 49-year-old veterinarian and a farmer’s 14-year-old daughter, a girl who has not yet become a woman. Both of them are annoyed with life. They find each other in it, but the relationship goes awry. The novel is harrowing, but Rijneveld’s superior style and style allow no escape. You read to the last page. And then I put the book away, calculated.

Should this powerful tour be translated into theatre? Is this possible? The question cannot be answered unequivocally. This theatrical performance will always have two types of audience: those who have read the book and those who have not.


This is true of any stage performance based on a book, but for “My Dear Favorites” the relationship between book and theater is precarious because it deals with such an emotional and sensitive topic. A vet and a girl may have a lot in common, but in the end it comes down to pedophilia. How do you show that without crossing the border? People react differently to words and sentences than to pictures.

The structure of the play – it runs about 2.5 hours without a break – faithfully follows the novel. Van Hove exchanges dialogues with the heroes’ reflections to illustrate the story’s development. Soon, she’s also swept up in the room by what’s going on in the heads of the vet and the girl. The discomfort of the book and the performance lies in the blurring of the boundaries between good and evil, between guilt and innocence. As a reader and spectator, you are torn apart by the choices that are forced upon you.

Hans Kesting as a veterinarian and recently graduated Evgie of Badenburg as a young girl give great performances. You feel their pain and their joy.

He knows the vet is wrong, and the girl may be naive. Sometimes this is depicted beautifully, as when she almost carelessly rests her leg on top of the vet’s leg. Don’t do it now, you think. But the purity of a child can never be an excuse.

Van Hove captured setting the book in a single staged arrangement. In the back of the cows, moreover, a wheelbarrow, a small trampoline, and a drinking trough. In the front left is a bed, and a playground for the vet’s wife and mother. A large set of video screens are installed above the stage, and clouds are usually projected onto them.


It is a sober arrangement, in which all attention goes to the protagonists. Hans Kesting as a veterinarian and recently graduated Evgie of Badenburg as a young girl give great performances. You feel their pain, their joy, their despair and loneliness, their doubts about the way they live their lives. The girl who wants to be a boy, and the vet who desperately doesn’t want to hang out with young girls but can’t resist.

Both are destined for life. The veterinarian because of his relationship with his mother who was abused by the girl because of her brother’s death, which she cannot bear. She wants to be a musician and cheer for Kurt Cobain. Music is an important component of the performance.

The girl thinks she can fly. She is convinced that she flew into the second tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11. Old Van Hoff was how he let her into the building with a bang on the video screens. witty. But sometimes he flirts with theatrical exaggeration, as if he wants to set foot next to Rijneveld.

Sometimes Van Hove flirts with theatrical exaggeration, as if he wants to get his foot in Rijneveld’s side.

This is certainly the case at the end of the long and very explicit rape scene. The girl had just said out loud to the vet, “I don’t have to see anything to be able to imagine.” That phrase was still haunting his mind as the vet’s bare buttocks continued to bob up and down with the screaming girl below him. It was very much like a shock effect that was too easy.

Fortunately, there was a soft ending: the girl became a singer after all. A new song by Dutch musician Wende Snijders sings over an unpublished text by Rijneveld. We hear “flying in the air.” and “forgive”.

“my favourite” It runs until January 29 at the International Theater in Amsterdam. An appeal will follow at the end of May. deSingel in Antwerp is programming the play in season 23-24.

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