Prague Fringe Reviews 2011 - Day 3

Hot tips for this year's festival

Definitely 2 picks of the Fringe so far are the two one person shows The Human Fruit Bowl (Divadlo Kampa, times vary) and Vitamin. The news spoof The Onion once ran a history of art that started with a palaeolithic Venus figurine, then the Venus di Milo, then another female nude, then another, then another and here the artist obsession with painting nude women and the with the women themselves, in particular Piere Bonnard and his model Renee Monchaty, is puzzled over from the point of view of a 'I don't know anything about art' nude sitter. Harmony Stempel delivers the vast majority of her monologue whilst holding herself perfectly motionless in poses from the paintings of various masters which are sparingly projected behind her. Such stillness from an actor on stage is an odd thing to witness, especially as her face remains extremely animated and even creates dialogues between her and other characters with absolute clarity without ever moving a muscle below her neck. The effect is quite powerful and at times even profound as the audience is forced to look at her as if they were in fact the artists. The single lighting shift - that cuts into a text that she is researching Renee's life and (supposed) suicide from – was incredibly effective although the flood of data fired out on the relationships of painters and their models at times became a little tedious. Watching Harmony sit so still and talk about the discomfort she suffers made me feel a little uncomfortable myself and there was certainly a little perverse deliberateness in that from the actor. For that reason, and some slightly overly indulgent silences, this is a première that could definitely do with just a little bit of cutting but is certainly well worth seeing.

Here's one I've been trying to figure out for a while – do you need to 'like' a comedian to find them funny? I think you probably do but whilst Vitamin (Studio Rubin 2200-2300) would probably be a pain in the arse round your flat and I certainly wouldn't want to get stuck in a lift with him he's definitely very, very funny. He has no doubt already been and will again be compared to Roberto Benigni but its not just his looks and weird accent that make it a fair comparison to the charmingly manic comedian. Delivered in 'gibberish' the foreigner with rubbish English is a comedy staple but Vitamin, in the first of his skits, makes it seem entirely fresh and had the small audience filling the theatre with laughter from the off (that thing he does squeezing his eyes together to connect with each person is genius). From there we're launched into an almost non stop selection of beautiful executed silliness and its pretty much non-stop funny. Again, very worth seeing.

Jim High is co-producer at Prague's Blood, Love and Rhetoric Theatre

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