Ron Cohen schreef 9 december 1982 in Women's wear daily
"Herman van Veen: All of him"
Dutch performer Herman van Veen is making a potent American debut on Broadway in the
above-entitled show at the Ambassador Theater. Van Veen, in the au courant terminology,
might be best described as a conceptual theater artist. It's a term that usually puts me
off, promising an evening of pretentious erratic inspiration. But van Veen delivers an
invigorating performance in a show that, down to every light cue, seems carefully
structured to evoke surprise, sometimes astonishment, from his first entrance down
the aisle throwing out handfuls of rice, to his final encore, when dressed in bathrobe,
he pounds a drum and pits out a rock love song. The show moves from segment to segment
with sometimes only the most tenuous connections but almost always with a strong
theatricality, to unveil van Veen's muliple talents.
In a melodiously resonant baritone, he sings a series of cabaret-style songs, many
of which he collaborated on as composer or lyricist. Only rarely falling into common
sentimentality, they are for the most part highly effective, and Christopher Adler's
English adaptations communicate well. Musically, the work is compelling, the trio working
van Veen especially fine. Van Veen himself plays a richly timbrous violin.
Combined with the music are a number of abstracted character bits, mixing
lithe mime work with an expressionistic flair for stand-up comedy. All
of it melds together in a theatrical rather than a variety format, and the
mood is never wearing. There's an occasional air of social protest, more
often metaphysical protest, but as a performer, van Veen lets his talents
filter through a graceful, relaxed persona.
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