Hans Teeuwen: Real Rancour

With a face like the Edvard Munch painting The Scream and limbs flying everywhere like a jointed wooden puppet, Dutch comic Hans Teeuwen begins his show with a burst of freestyle jazz dancing.

What is he doing? What is it all about? You get the feeling he might need to know the answer just as much as you do.

You can tell this is not going to be an ordinary night. And it isn’t, Teeuwen creates bizarre absurdist impressions, sings, dances and at one point plays the piano, quite seriously, for several minutes.

Nothing matters more to him than his audience, says Teeuwen, a showbiz cliché, that fed through the washing machine of his style, morphs into a ridiculously narcissistic cry for help. He needs us to love him, he pleads for our applause. He is desperate for our attention and will do anything to get it. Teeuwen thinks nothing of bringing his face right up against a member of the audience. Not, like many street theatre trained clowns, picking a person who looks as if they will cope well with it. Teeuwen will swoop on anyone. He takes genuine risks.

At one point Teeuwen switches on the light and leaps into the crowd, circling gliding, making people feel genuinely uncomfortable, breaking into his signature sexy moves. On stage his routines are choreographed, physically intense. Teeuwen will take an observation, of people commenting on the internet, or the way French tourists behave in Amsterdam, for example, and work it into a hallucinatory cubist frenzy which repeats, shatters and repeats.

Often his routines don’t particularly end. He breaks off and bursts into song, or a song which would be a song if he had finished it. His songs don’t end either.

There’s an awkward section where he circles around the question of comedy and freedom of speech – creating a routine satirising the Jews and then another satirising Islam. Does it work? Not quite. Teeuwen is aiming to make people feel nervous and he succeeds – but as comedy it is unsatisfying and unresolved.

But the questions he raises somehow stay with you and so does the unusual jerky energy of this strange European man. What is he doing? What is it all about? You get the feeling he might need to know the answer just as much as you do.

There’s an extraordinary section towards the end of the show where Teeuwen sits in a spotlight and reads his own bad review. He brings the energy of the room down, going for full-on actorly pathos – looking as if he might be about to cry. It reconnects with the opening section about the psyche of the comic. What are we even doing here? Teeuwen just wants our love. To judge anyone else is absurd.

Reviews by Claire Smith

Soho Theatre

Hans Teeuwen: Real Rancour

★★★★
Brighton Spiegeltent

Meow Meow

★★★★
Republic

Briefs

★★★★★
Multiple Venues

Simon Munnery: And Nothing But

★★★★
Leicester Square Theatre

Margaret Cho: The Psycho Tour

★★★★
Otherplace at the Basement: The Pit

Alexis Dubus: Cars and Girls

★★★★

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Performances

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The Blurb

The hilariously absurd, wildly energetic and joyously unpredictable comedian returns to the UK after a six-year absence.

Combining stand-up, clowning and cabaret, Hans Teeuwen is a uniquely endearing yet provocative showman. His previous sold out UK visits attracted frenzied admiration from audiences, a Chortle Award and dazzling critical acclaim.

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