De Architect (2008)


Postdoctoral physicist Rosa, who has been called Edith since marrying, has been kept at home for years caring for her to her tyrannical husband Arthur, a retired architect. The domineering old man has been controlling his wife her whole life long. But the balance of power shifts when she witnesses the domestic violence taking place in their new neighbours’ home. This confrontation catalyses Rosa, and she warns the other woman to make a choice she never made herself. She tells the young woman about her never-completed thesis about Schrödinger, the quantum mechanic who proposed that there might be multiple simultaneous realities. That’s when the women’s lives start moving in the same parallel dimensions.



In De Architect the neighbours’ domestic violence parallels the psychological oppression inflicted upon Rosa by her architect husband. We hear the physical abuse taking place in the neighbours’ house, painfully underlining the psychological venom in the older couple’s home. Ahlbom reveals the psychological consequences of this oppressive behaviour. And despite being belittled your whole life long, it’s never too late to free yourself. He sheds light on the darker side of human relationships – in which love, hate and violence are so very close to one another – revealing what goes on behind the thick walls of our domestic existence.


Ahlbom partially based this account on his grandparents’ relationship. Jakops grandfather was an architect and had a particularly domineering personality. Ahlbom collaborated closely on this piece with playwright Marijke Schermer. Taking his concept as the foundation, he gave her ideas for staging, scenes and incidents. They worked together to create a balanced whole that unified staging and text in the best possible way. Dialogue is a necessity that emerges from the play’s central theme of psychological violence. Language functions here to both humiliate Rosa and to bear witness to her innermost feelings.

In the media

“For Leny Breederveld and Aat Ceelen, Edith and Arthur are perhaps the greatest roles of their lives. … How talented Ahlbom must be to be able to emerge at such a high level in his directorial debut. The great hope of Dutch theatre is a Swede.”
NRC Handelsblad
“Great feats of inter-human non-communication and madness. … Breederveld leads us into melancholy, delicious inventiveness and great audacity.”
De Volkskrant
“Jakop Ahlbom surprises anew with visual inventiveness and absurd incidents, but also reveals a keen eye for human shortcomings to accompany his confident analysis of contemporary relationships. … Like a well-practised illusionist, Ahlbom conjures with the unconscious, the imagination, perception and sense of reality. … Everything about De Architect is just right.”
Het Parool / Haarlems Dagblad
“Perfect, unsettling theatre.”
De Telegraaf
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Concept and Direction: Jakop Ahlbom
Text: Marijke Schermer
 Cast: Leny Breederveld, Aat Ceelen, Sandra Mattie, Harpert Michielsen
 Stage design: Daniël Ament
 Dramaturge: Jeroen van den Berg
 Costumes: Zita Winnubst
 Sound design: Wim Conradi
 Lighting design: Rob Galdermans Technicians: Rob Galdermans, Dirk Houthoff, Bas Standaar/André Goos

Props: Benedict Altena, Smids and Hooijboer
Make-up: Pilo Pilkes
Set makers: Brinkman Decor Zaandam
Production and Management: Alles voor de Kunsten: Meeke Beumer, Wilma Kuite, Markell Helmann, Eva Bosgraaf
 Publicity: Eva Schneider
Stage photography: Stephan van Hesteren
Poster and flyer design: Studio Niels Megens
Post and flyer photography: Arjan Benning

Thanks to: Golden Palace, Bambie, John Valkering, Robert van der Hoop, De Wereld Draait Door, Schooltuin Gerrit Kalff, NAT Architecten

Made possible by financial support from: Performing arts Fund, Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, Norma-fonds, Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds, Lira Fonds

Performance dates

No current performances

Premiere: 6 December 2008, Toneelschuur, Haarlem

Tour from 28 November 2008 to 14 March 2009