This week we’ve given PYT Advanced students the opportunity to develop their critical writing skills and share their personal opinions on our blog by reviewing Prague Fringe events. The festival runs from 26th May-3rd June.
Megan Meunier continues to cover the festival..
Day 6- Wednesday 31st May
I spent the morning cutting away at my fringe t-shirt, which has become an annual ritual for me. After I was happy with the result, I leapt off to watch Shenandoah at Beseda.
Shenandoah is located at the top of Beseda where the audience sits towards the sides of the room, creating a traverse. The cast tells a gorgeous story about a girl in Nebraska trying to find her place and her direction through song and narration. The songs are incredible, sung with an ethereal voice both with and without musical accompaniment and sounding like pure music. It was a voice that was as calming as water trickling in a brook. The story was charming and the room felt perfect for it. There was something magical about the way the room was lit with no artificial lighting. There were only two clear streams of light coming from the windows. They illuminated the stage with the pale colours of a summer mid afternoon. I felt transported to a valley where the world was slower and more isolated. It’s the kind of place someone dreams of jumping on a train and running away to. This play was perfect for that magical experience of being swept away by music and story.
After the calming experience of Shenandoah, I left to café club Mišeñška to see the The Monks of Umami: Radiodyssey. I’d heard some mixed reactions to the performance so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. The show is not one coherent comedy routine but rather a series of very funny sketches. It would just be fairly good and nothing more… if this were all that it was, but they also introduced the villainous Alan Bennett as the constant arch-nemesis of the actors. This was a brilliant idea because they could then make a constant joke out of anachronic phone calls and constant strange recordings from Alan Bennett. My favourite reoccurring sketch was the Irish folk songs that became more and more horrifyingly depressing as the production went on. I think the performance was a little Monty Pythonesque, so if you like that sort of thing, you’ll like the Monks of Umami.
After that experience, I went back to Beseda to see Jojo Bellini: Crash-Bang Cabaret!. Jojo Bellini was sexy in all the right ways with a great sense of humour and self-awareness to top it off. She performs fun and interesting acts with a phallic vegetable. Her song, ‘Dildos are forever,’ is exactly as funny as it sounds (which is very). The story she tells has a brutally honest moment when she talks about how her car crash made her think about her life. The first thing I thought as I left the room was ‘Sexy is an attitude, not a body type.’ Jojo knows how to turn every moment into a comedic moment, with a hilarious moment I’ll try not to spoil involving inflatable saxophones, audience participation, a saxophone solo and a costume change. If you’re looking for traditional cabaret, this is not the right show for you. If you’re looking for something funny, uplifting, light and cheesy in all the right ways, come and see Jojo Bellini.
Half an hour later, still at Beseda, I went to see Johnny Darlin’s performance. Johnny Darlin: In the Closet was a bit of a disappointment for me as an LGBT+ person. It is a music show with entertaining songs but I found the large technical aspect completely overwhelming. Essentially throughout the entire show there is a large screen music video going on in the background and constant voice-overs taking about the LGBT experience. The over-the-top video in the back was constantly upstaging Johnny as he changed costumes and performed. It was hard to follow the lyrics in the songs with this trippy video that used various levels of saturation and lighting to the point of being a dizzying experience, and not in a good way. Some of the songs were quite lovely though and I really liked ‘One town over,’ about building a new life as a gay member of society. Overall it’s probably a better experience with your eyes closed because the visuals are pointless and overpowering but the audio of the songs and voice overs was effective and sweet.
You can check out Prague Fringe’s full programme, here.