The Prague Fringe binge is past its halfway point…Here’s what Megan and Liam saw on Wednesday!
Tonight, the only show I was able to review was 2100 : a Space Novelty, performed by Cut Mustard. They’re recent graduates of the LeCoq school, and it makes for a really fun physical piece! It’s a science fiction play too, which I understand might make some potential audience members nervous. Science fiction is incredibly hard to do on stage: my personal feeling is that you can’t do serious sci-fi. It has to be silly! And 2100 has that wonderful sci-fi kitsch in spades.
Every trope and cliche and line you’d expect to hear in a 60s science fiction is in this play; from the ‘straight white male’ main character to the unlikely ally who asks ‘What is a… friend?’. Nothing’s too cliched or obvious.
It doesn’t feel like a parody, though. It’s a really fun, fast paced, atmospheric homage to cheesy space age fiction, and the performers are a delight to watch, with all the flawless acrobatics and mime you’d expect to see from a LeCoq trained ensemble. (Yes, they do mime climbing up onto a high ledge at one point, that hallmark of LeCoq training.). One touch I absolutely loved was that the actors used their own languages (Norwegian, Korean, and I think a bit of French?) for ‘alien’ languages. It’s an intelligently stupid show that manages to find a lot of spectacle even though its scale is small. The miniatures they use for the space ships are gorgeous, and the music (performed live on a synth) is perfectly pitched. It’s a real crowd pleaser, totally unpretentious and fun!
As the shows pile up on day 6, they all begin to blur together, but Caliban’s Codex is an exception. It breaks the pattern a little to see a familiar venue so transformed, I could not have imagined seeing a monologue in the round performed in Misenska, but it seems I was mistaken. Emily Carding is wonderfully feral as bitter Caliban, abandoned by all but the island. I had forgotten most of the plot of Tempest, not my favourite Shakespeare piece, but I felt that one didn’t need more context than the programme gave to follow the pathos and understand how he felt cheated by the universe (namely Sycorax and Prospero). The performance isn’t entirely in iambic but does carry the texture of shakespeare’s writing, which is quite an accomplishment for an original performance. The set is simple, scores of burnt pages scattered across the floor, that Caliban shuffles through in desperation and a sleeping bag that serves as an all-purpose prop. Carding is such a powerful performer that a minimalist stage allows her physicality and energy to shine through and her asides to various members of the audience keeps us on our toes, waiting to see what happens next.
The final show of the evening is Songs of Gays, by the returning London Gay Men’s Chorus. It’s a fabulous piece, receiving a standing ovation… half way through the performance. Between each song, the audience snaps fingers, claps and wildly whoops. The show is modeled after a catholic sermon where the ten commandments include “Thou shalt not steal… focus”. It’s a true celebration of LGBT+ community with large choreographed musical numbers and glimmer and glitz. The singers strut across the stage performing musical classics and pulling out fans and feather boas. It’s a fabulous show of pride and something for any fan of musicals, gay, straight or elsewhere on the Kinsey scale. It’s not “Boys will be boys” from 2016, but it’s on the same level quality wise. The only negative here is that they will be selling out pretty soon.