Amsterdam Abortion Survivor
nytheatre.com review by Avery Pearson
August 13, 2010
It has been inferred that performing theatre created in a European market at the exchange rate of American sensibility can be risky. This year the code has been cracked by the NYC premiere of 2008 Edinburgh Fringe hit—Micha Wertheim's Amsterdam Abortion Survivor.
Equipped with political incorrectness and envelope pushing, storytelling meets stand-up comedy in Dutch performer Wertheim's screwball dream world. Our journey begins with a comical "Google Translate" broken English pre-show announcement. Enter Wertheim clad in boxer briefs and sports coat doing a funny, clappy dance. With a mixture of Borat-brash panache and the tulip sensibility of liberal Netherlands, we are immediately won over by Wertheim's deceptively endearing foreigner's charm. So stellar is this jaunt that the audience at the show I saw doubled over in laughter and was left speechless by faux extrapolated explanations of American culture. All the while, Wertheim plays with our sense of political correctness, justified by a comedian's license.
In developing the play for a North American audience, Wertheim has clearly focused on ensuring accessibility. Among the plethora of humorous tales, he examines American dependence on hitting the snooze button as a mechanism to purchasing time. He poses simply, why not set the alarm 9 minutes earlier the evening before, hit the snooze and get up on time?
Amsterdam is not for the faint-of-heart. Whisking around Wertheim's weird subconscious, he likens "Free Tibet" to "Free Wifi." He posits: he is already freeing Tibet; he can't free some guy named Wi Fi as well! Then, with a calming and light-hearted set-up, Wertheim offers his audience the opportunity to purchase Livestrong-esque bracelets in the lobby for a good cause: "...victims victimized by other victims." He then analyzes Lance Armstrong's use of drugs for both beating cancer and winning the Tour de France. We also get the pleasure of learning about Wertheim's sexual interest in cubism—"...masturbating (in a museum) to a Picasso is like watching porn without the decoder."
It is through Wertheim's masterful balance of comedic timing and self-deprecation that we grant ourselves permission to look in the mirror and laugh. If you like Cohen's Borat and Izzard's Dressed to Kill, you'll love Wertheim's Amsterdam Abortion Survivor.