Simon Stone's dark take on Woody Allen's comedy divorce drama

Husbands and wives

Woody Allen, Simon Stone, Toneelgroep Amsterdam

You are looking at a performance from our archive

Simon Stone, master in modern adaptations of classic tragedies, takes on Woody Allen’s famous divorce comedy-drama Husbands and wives. Seeing Allen’s film classic as a modern version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, the Australian director works with the actors from Toneelgroep Amsterdam to evoke a similar intensity. Stone says that Woody Allen depicts ‘the relationship as a nightmare which in the end you can only laugh about’. He created a stir with his previous Holland Festival directions of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck (2013) and Seneca’s Thyestes (2014). At Toneelgroep Amsterdam he directed the award-winning Medea (2014). Once again it will be almost impossible to remain unmoved.

Public rehearsal / try-outs

Wed 15 June 2 pm: public rehearsal
Thu 16 June - Sat 18 June 8 pm: try-outs

Background information

One day you look up and it’s bad. Jack and Sally are getting divorced. We don’t want to make a big thing about it, they claim. It is a mutual decision, we’re both fine. But for their friends Gabe and Judy, it is an incredible shock. Is our marriage as good as we think it is, they wonder. Jack and Sally’s decision triggers a chain of events that profoundly uproots the lives of these four people.

Simon Stone directs Husbands and wives at Toneelgroep Amsterdam, after his successful staging of Medea at the company. The world premiere of Husbands and wives will take place at the Holland Festival 2016 where it will be performed exclusively. 

Woody Allen wrote and directed Husbands and wives in the period just before his own relationship with Mia Farrow failed. Scenes in which the story develops are alternated by documentary scenes in which the characters are interviewed separately and look back on what happened. A fight between the urge for freedom and the need for security breaks loose. Husbands and wives confronts us with questions we all ask ourselves at some point. When is a relationship over? And how to go on? Do you cling to what you have or be open to something completely new? How well do you know yourself, your partner, your friends? Can you be lonelier in a relationship than when you are alone? At a certain point, Gabe says: Life is not a Hollywood film. It’s a foreign film. It is not a coincidence that Husbands and wives is in many ways similar to Scenes from a marriage, the big divorce story by Woody Allen’s mentor and admired example Ingmar Bergman. 

Simon Stoneabout Husbands and wives: ‘Woody Allen lifts the banality of modern relationships up to a Shakespearean level. Nobody is better than him when it comes to portraying the reality of romance, with all its flaws. In Husbands and wives, he adds an air of fateful breakdown. It becomes Woody Allen, but in the form of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. The relationship as a nightmare, which can only be laughed at – as long as that is possible. Because in the end, you’re there in the rain without an umbrella. All the others are happy, or at least they have found a way to be unhappy in a happy way. But you are still waiting for something there, drenched, surprised, alone.’ 



Simon Stone (1984) is an Australian actor and theatre director. He is one of the greatest young talents of the Australian theatre. In 2007 he founded the independent theatre company The Hayloft Project, where he wrote and directed a version of Seneca’s Thyestes, This production won Green Room Awards for Best Adaptation, Best Production and Best Ensemble. 

In 2011 Stone became the Resident Director at Belvoir. In his first year he wrote and directed a new version of Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, which won the Helpmann Award for Best Play and Best Director and Best Mainstage Production at the Sydney Theatre Awards. In 2013 Stone managed to impress again with a new version of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, with the Melbourne Theatre Company. After his success with The Wild Duck in Amsterdam and Vienna, Stone received numerous invitations to create new work in Europe. In early January 2014 his staging of Aeschylos' Oresteiai premiered in Oberhausen and in October 2014 Stone directed an award-winning Medea for Toneelgroep Amsterdam. In 2014 he returned to the Holland Festival with Thyestes. That same year, Stone directed an award-winning Medea (2014) at Toneelgroep Amsterdam. Since last year he is one of the four in-house directors at the Theater Basel. There he directed Angels in America

Toneelgroep Amsterdam is one of the leading ambassadors of Dutch performing art in the Netherlands and abroad. With a core composed of a broad and highly versatile ensemble of world- famous actors and a team of leading directors, it is the in-house company of Amsterdam’s Stadsschouwburg Theatre and performs on stages worldwide. Toneelgroep Amsterdam is led by Ivo van Hove, who has been instrumental in attracting sensational international directors to the group such as Thomas Ostermeier, Johan Simons, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Grzegorz Jarzyna, Luk Perceval and Guy Cassiers, as well as members of a new generation such as Simon Stone and Susanne Kennedy. It sets itself apart by staging innovative and contemporary productions from the classic and modern repertoire for a wide audience in the Netherlands and abroad. The group performs for around 110,000 people a year, helping ensure that repertory theatre remains an indispensable component of contemporary culture.



Woody Allen
Simon Stone
Rik van den Bos
Peter van Kraaij
Bob Cousins
Bernie van Velzen
Stefan Gregory
An D'Huys
Hélène Devos, Aus Greidanus jr., Marieke Heebink Robert de Hoog, Ramsey Nasr, Halina Reijn
assistant director
Olivier Diepenhorst
dramaturge assistant
Doke Pauwels
assistant scenographer
Manon Veldhuis, Ramón Huijbrechts (support)
head of technique & production
Wolf-Götz Schwörer
head of technique & production
Wolf-Götz Schwörer
production management
Edith den Hamer, Savan Huisman (intern)
Joost Verlinden (1st stage manager), Zinzi Kemper, David Logger, Peter Pieksma, Martijn Smolders, Erwin Sterk
costumes department
Farida Bouhbouh
head of costume department
Wim van Vliet
casting advice
Hans Kemna
Marleen Koens
Toneelgroep Amsterdam
Holland Festival
with support by
private producer
Gert-Jan and Corinne van den Bergh-Raat, Joachim Fleury, Familie Staal Fonds

This performance was made possible with support by