Our PYT Reviewers are still at it! Here are their reviews for Sunday the 27th…
My first show of the evening was Conflicts of Interest in the Museum of Alchemists. I was quite looking forward to this one; a biographical storytelling show about two separate sides of both World Wars. Richard Pulsford has ancestors who fought on both sides of the wars, and I was excited to see how they’d be tied together in performance.
But… they kind of weren’t. This piece didn’t feel ready to me, for a number of reasons. For one thing, it tended to feel like a series of little vignettes and facts that didn’t really tie together, bar one or two little things. The stories were interesting, of course, but for me they blended together to an extent and I found it difficult to follow things; it felt less like a story and more like an exhibition without much of a through line. Not only that, but Pulsford was reading the text off a tablet; which is fine, that’s not an issue for me usually, but only if you can keep eye contact and some connection with the audience. He spent most of the show looking at the tablet however, which made it very difficult for me to get absorbed into the story.
There’s a lot of potential here, it just needs to find the thing that really ties it all together; would that mean including some autobiographical stuff in between the historical stories, jumping from the past into the present, like a Spalding Grey monologue? Possibly.
Next up was Twonkey’s Train to Lichtenstein, also in the Museum of Alchemists. It’s a glorious trainwreck of a cabaret show, bookended by a middle aged white rapper who goes by Mid-Life Chaos. What I loved about this show was how relaxed it was in its absurdity. Twonkey doesn’t try at all to cast illusions or paint a picture in the audience’s mind (save for a Kraftwerk style song about a Pub). He knows this is a silly, slapdash show with mad homemade puppets that only get used for a minute or two before they’re discarded, and a plot that could fit on a postcard.It also contains one of the worst and funniest death scenes I’ve ever seen. At one point, Twonkey confesses to the audience that he likes to “avoid content”. And I think that sums up this show beautifully. Willfully, gleefully bonkers. I loved it!
Next, I made my way into Golden Key, where I performed last year. A wave of nostalgia washed over me when I caught the scent of the mildew and damp in that hotel cellar. Plus, it was actually cooler than I remembered, much cooler than the Museum of Alchemists!
I was here to see David McIver is a Nice Little Man. It’s somewhere between standup and sketch comedy, with the loose dusting of an overall narrative. We’re at David’s (18th?) birthday party. And we also meet his infant children. And a drill sergeant. And a shy stand up comedian. And a Masculinity Coach. And a Cool Dad.
I think the blurb and the image quite accurately conveys what you’ll expect from this show; it’s weird, it’s disarming, it’s quaint. Not unlike the Mighty Boosh or some of the weirder bits of Twitter. Some of the bits start to outstay their welcome after a while, where they tend to be the same central joke repeated several times over the course of a 5-10 minute segment. It’s never not funny, it just feels sometimes like a little bit of fat could be trimmed.
Overall though, this will definitely give you your fix of weird comedy!
My last show of the evening was Wimps ; it’s a solid hour of improv. I can’t really say much more than Megan already said to be honest! They’re a charismatic quartet, and the short form scenes were a lot of fun. I feel like they need to find what their trademark is though; something more long form, or a new game of their own, perhaps?
The day began early, at the Loca bar at 2.30pm to see the Fringe Sunday show. I’ve already planned most of the shows I want to watch for the Fringe Binge, but I enjoyed seeing the snippets of shows with my family.
Then I went down to see Conflicts of Interest, a very unique performance, the likes of which I haven’t quite seen at the fringe before. It was a personal history lesson, a story about men who fought in the first world war and died. Ancestors of the narrator Richard Pulsford who were buried by the enemy and fought on both fronts of the war. I have to admit, I was exhausted after two days of Fringe and starting with the Fringe Sunday earlier on in the day and the heat of the room was getting to me. The stories Richard tells are fascinating but there were parts, especially as he was describing technical details behind u-boats and other military minutiae, where I lost focus. My best learning environment is not a hot darkened room and I struggle with large parts of exposition. I’ll echo what Liam said though, the stories are not linked and the subject matter feels much dryer when the script is being read off an iPad.
I think this show is fascinating for history buffs, but it isn’t yet a show to suit most audiences, and definitely not something to watch if you’ve already had a long day.
Then I waited around at the Museum of Alchemists with a cold sticky trdelnik (would not recommend) to see Twonkey’s Night Train to Liechtenstein. The show, opened and closed by the rapper Midlife Chaos/Crisis, is an absurdist cabaret with smorgasbord of songs and strange props. A particular song, “I went to the pub” manages to almost completely avoid any pub related content. I loved the fixed up umbrella that created the puppet for Mothra. The props are all crafted with the same weirdness as the show. Where else in the fringe would you find a heartbreaking song about losing your cat to divorce and a semtex fez? And somewhere in that show is a surreal story about traveling to Liechtenstein to collect a mysterious inheritance, and though the narrative thread was tossed away quite early on, I still managed to follow (if there was anything to follow at all).
Then I walked to Cafe Club Misenska to see Nana Schewitz’ Pass Me Over Party. I have to quickly say that the staff there were wonderful, I had some issues with my ticket and they sorted me out in just a few minutes – so shout out to the Misenska Sunday team!
Nana Schewitz is a show that rivals Twonkey in its absurdity. A drag show about a woman struggling to compete with her arch-nemesis’ funeral, despite not actually being dead. She desperately pulls out every stop to make her funeral the perfect production. The performance I saw had some technical issues half way through, and they stepped around them so elegantly that at first I thought it may have been planned, but as the show went on it was clear that it was a genuine technical fault. I have to applaud them on how well they dealt with the issue. I liked the little Motzah ball shots, although I wish they had maybe explained what the main allergens were or something, just to put me at peace as a vegetarian. I ate them anyway (because I like food) but I do worry about potential celiacs and others with dietary restrictions who might have worried about whether or not they could partake. Otherwise the show was eccentric and fun – I’m very sorry that was the last performance in Prague.
Unfortunately, I did have another show planned that evening but through poor planning (and by writing down the wrong venue) I did not show up in time. This may have been for the best, because I was utterly exhausted, so I went to bed early and fingers crossed I’ll be awake enough for the five shows I have planned on Monday.