This week, Prague Youth Theatre students will be reviewing Prague Fringe events. The festival runs from 26th May-3rd June.
PYT Advanced student Megan Meunier shares her views of the first day of the fringe…
Day 1 – Friday 26th May
Prepping for the day, I threw on my old fringe t-shirt to leave no doubt as to my fringe-groupie status. Thinking I’d arrived in plenty of time for my first show, I discovered in shock that I was actually a minute late. Sheepishly sneaking into the performance of Mr Gundersen’s Kerfuffle, I was caught out by the performer on stage and forced to do the walk of shame past the front row, under his mimed instructions. I’m sure everyone else found this hilarious.
The play follows a family of aliens on a planet where humans have decided to dump their excess rubbish. It’s a non-verbal puppet show, which is not something I would usually choose. The puppets are incredibly charming with their simple design and the story evokes emotion, ranging from laughter to sadness. However, I found myself spacing out in some of the longer scenes – due possibly to a lack of energy in the performance or my own lack of sleep. I would highly recommend this for families as its important message is strongly sent out with a nice wrapping of child-friendly entertainment and the puppets are sure to delight even the adults.
Next I moved onto Kampa where I realised that the rest of my programme for the day was in that theatre. This was not a bad thing because the staff there were incredibly friendly and full of excitement on this first day of the fringe.
The first production I saw in Kampa was Domestic, an intense play about intimacy, betrayal and domestic extremism. It followed the relationship of an activist with a boyfriend completely outside of her usual social circle. The play was text-based but when breaks from the text came up, the physicality of the actors took over. The transitions in the play were seamless. I found myself so captivated I had to consciously remind myself to blink. Without revealing any spoilers, there was one scene at the end where I was confused as to whether Cal was still on stage or if the character being played was a different person. Apart from this, it was a brilliant performance.
My family joined me for Hess because I had been particularly looking forward to that one. The one-man show was a powerful piece exploring the hypocrisy of modern day society in the way we currently treat the values we set during the Nuremberg Trials. This may be the best use I’ve ever seen of the “we’re not so different you and I”, trope. As Hess interrogated the audience on the integrity of our ideals, I was horrified at my own growing sympathy for the Nazi. I was almost grateful for the anti-Semitic outbursts, which reminded me that there is, in fact, a difference between Hess and us. The lighting was fantastic, although I did find the scene where the plane was being mimed more jarring than effective. The most successful part for me was this intense moment when the stage flooded with red light near the end.
The fourth play of the evening was Tiger where I was invested from the first minute. I might be a little biased because I saw and loved the old version last year in Golden Key. I stand firm by my belief that Colin Bramwell could stand on stage and read a grocery list and I would still be captivated by his voice. This was not a grocery list however; it was a beautifully told interactive story about a girl called Kathy who has an LSD trip in the woods. The character of Kathy, despite her abrupt nature, has a sweetness to her that makes her exceptionally endearing. I have never tried LSD, but they managed to capture how I would imagine a really trippy atmosphere to be. The sound effect of the waterfall contributed to this eerie ambiance as it transformed into various sound-based hallucinations. Probably a bad experience on drugs as a ‘double-trip’ but a wonderful experience sober!
The final play of the evening was Zurichplays: An Anti-comedy, an absurd absurdist play by Blood Love and Rhetoric. It follows, if it follows anything at all, the trial of Richard for undadalike behaviour. Dada is an artform from the early 19th century. I felt during the performance that if I had researched it I would have enjoyed some of the references more. It was very bizarre, which to their credit was the intention and there were some brilliant moments such as a prolonged silence in the middle of the play. The performers were energetic and somehow the words they spoke felt like they had meaning despite being completely nonsensical. It was nearing the end of the day and after three very intense performances I found it hard to fully connect with the production. If you aren’t scared of something very random, then it is definitely worth a watch.
You can check out Prague Fringe’s full programme, here.