Known by the circus name Ashton Brothers, Pepijn Gunneweg (1976), Joost Spijkers (1977), Pim Muda (1978) and Friso van Vemde (1972) play to impress in theatres all over the world. The professional skill, the guts and inventiveness of the four Ashtons, are from an extremely high and rare quality. The combination of skills leads to an unique form of spectacular, absurd and poetic theatre; a radical update of the good old variety shows. For the price of one ticket, you will be treated to clowning, cabaret, acrobatics, rock & roll, slapstick, magic and lots of other things, which make people happy.
In 2001, they create their first theatre production titled: Tragiek van de onderman. The performance which had its opening night in the Kleine Komedie in Amsterdam, was received with lyrical reviews. Headlines in leading national newspapers Het Parool and De Volkskrant read: “The Ashton Brothers belong to the top and will conquer the theatres. In 2002, the Ashton Brothers receive the BAT Award for their first show.
The Ashton Brothers’ second production, Ballyhoo! is an even bigger hit. After the opening night on 15th February 2005, the Dutch press talk about ‘A complete triumph’ (Elsevier). Ballyhoo! goes into rerun for three seasons (300 theatre performances, more than 250.000 visitors), with a closing performance in Royal Theatre Carré.
Ballyhoo! also turns out to be the production which opens doors to the international field. During the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, the Dutch quartet put themselves in the picture. The British press is stunned: ‘There haven’t been many performances at the Fringe that have caused Metro to drop its notepad through sheer excitement, but this was one. Influenced by Monty Python, the Ashton Brothers are agile, adept and funny enough to fill their shoes.’ (Metro UK)
After that, things are moving fast. In July 2006, the Ashton Brothers experience their North American premiere in Toronto. Performances follow in Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Latvia. At the invitation of the Dutch Embassy in Slovenia, the Ashton Brothers perform for dignitaries including the Dutch Royals King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima.
The third Ashton show, titled Charlatans, a medicine show has its opening night on March 17th, 2007. And again the quartet is directed by Peter de Baan and is given advise by Peter de Jong (one of Holland’s most successful variety artist, part of the duo Mini & Maxi). Charlatans runs for more than 4 years. It receives five 5 star reviews in Holland alone and becomes a summer sensation in Spain in 2010. The last show is performed at Theatre Croisette in Cannes, France.
Show number 4 is called Treasures and is currently playing in Dutch and Belgian theatres.