Prague Fringe Festival is under way

Some acts have already become hits with the audience, and there is a lot more to come

The Prague Fringe Festival, now in its 15th year, is under full steam with some of the early acts already finishing up and new ones launching. The festival runs until June 4 and in total will present 52 productions and 273 performances.

One highlight so far that people still have a chance to catch is Parlour Games, by Tooth + Nail, an international company from Scotland, England, France and Norway. It runs to June 1 at Divadlo Inspirace.

The play is a bit more complex than it seems at first glance. Four children in pajamas (actually young adult actors) put on an elaborate pantomime in the style of silent films, with a two young lovers, an evil count and another boy in various roles. Much of it is nonverbal, with a lot of carefully timed physical theater. Constance, played by Harriet Feeny, likes to say “swoon” and go into a falling faint, with someone always there to catch her hopefully. The group uses a limited number of props to create a childhood fantasy land. There is a framing story that makes the events somewhat bittersweet, and a hint of jealousy and rivalry in the childish pantomime games. It is at Divadlo Inspirace to June 1.

Another popular entry has been Thorn, a one-man play about a man's experiences with fundamentalist religion in Australia. The lead actor, still suffering from the effects of a childhood illness, describes how he became involved as a preacher in a megachurch — but hang on until the end. It is quite a bit more than a re-creation of a sermon, and goes off in an unexpected direction. The play is staged by the Not Suitable for Drinking company from Australia and runs until June 1 at Divadlo Kampa.

People looking for a more traditional play can check out The Telegram, a staged one-man show / monologue performed by Ioan Ardelean, who also translated the Italian play by the late Aldo Nicolaj. An actor who has fallen on hard times rants to the audience about everything that is wrong with the theater world and why he is having trouble getting roles despite an award he has won. All the while, he is waiting for a telegram that has news about a big break he may be getting.

Ardelean does some audience interaction, but otherwise the play is a bit more formally structured than the typical Fringe offering. It runs until June 1 at Divadlo Inspirace.

Something between dance and physical theater, If These Bodies Could Speak is performed by Matchbox Theatre Collective. The piece for two performers looks at the impact of social media on relationships. A part using the shadows of the dancers is particularly effective. The show is part of a theme on acts from South Africa. It runs until May 31 at Divadlo Kampa.

Blue Bee Theatre of Japan has a one-man mime show called Stripe. Makoto Inoue is back at the Fringe for the sixth time. He appears in a sort of minimalist clown makeup, sharing the stage with a Macintosh laptop that generates music and sounds. The show is a bit improvised and there are a few lags as he works out the next bits, but he is quite talented when he gets things going. He will be at Divadlo Inspirace to May 31.

Much along the same lines, Men With Coconuts is back with an improvisational show that is different every time, and it runs to June 4 at Malostranska Beseda.

One of the Men With Coconuts members, Steve Worsley, has his own one-man show called An Audience With Steve D'Wonderful. He moderated the Fringe Sunday, which presented bits of many of the upcoming shows. His character is 1950s-style crooner who seems rather impressed with himself. Worsley was quite funny on Sunday, and hopefully his solo show will continue in that vein. It starts June 2 and runs to June 4 at Divadlo Inspirace.

Also back in the later part of the festival is J.B. Alexander with his adaptation of Kafka's Metamorphosis, with the lead character waking up not as an insect but as Kafka himself. It is at Kavarna 3+1 from May 31 to June 4.

Another reprise is A Special Day, by Por Piedad Teatro and the Play Company. The story takes place between two neighbors in Italy just before World War II, and has rather inventive staging using chalk to draw props as the story unfolds. It runs May 31 to June 4 at A-Studio Rubín.

Stage magic fans' won't want to miss Stuart Lightbody, returning with a show called Stuart Lightbody's Sleepless Dreams. It is part of the South Africa theme and runs May 30 to June 4 at Divadlo Kampa.

Note that several venues such as the Golden Key and Kavarna 3+1 have limited seating.


For more information and full program please visit: www.praguefringe.com

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