‘In The Woods Where the Men Work’,
Photography by Georgi Shillington
Prague Fringe is a boutique curated festival of mostly English speaking performance work.
There’s around sixty shows in this year’s festival.
So. This weekend just gone, Doppelgangster’s COLD WAR toured to Prague for the city’s 18th annual Fringe Festival.
Now. Dr Tom Payne has returned to Sheffield. Tobias Manderson-Galvin has stayed in Prague.
Here, the two discuss the shows Tobias has witnessed despite Tom having no point of reference other than the festival programme and his attendance at the opening night speed fringing event
– Tobias + Tom
Oof Theatre Collective (USA)
M-G Do you know this song In the Pines’?
PAYNE Oh yes, moving number, ‘where did you stay last night?’, the perennial question.
M-G Are you being facetious? How is that the perennial question?
PAYNE For the temporarily lonely. The abandoned. Maybe just myself.
M-G The song isn’t about you and your wife though Tom. The song is about some American and their lover? Isn’t it?
PAYNE I’ve just tried to listen to it again and my laptop speakers are broken and it sounds like a Breakcore remix.
M-G And that’s, yes, that’s closer to the experience of this play/physical theatre work.
PAYNE Or maybe glitch-hop.
M-G Ok. Very turn of the century. This work feels very early 2000s New York theatre. You know the scene in American Psycho?
PAYNE The rats? Gerbils? Phil Collins?
M-G oh, it’s rats not gerbils, but no- but wait hang on what’s the Phil Collin’s scene?
PAYNE Maybe that’s just the book?
M-G OK, but no no, not from the book anyway – from the film.
PAYNE Ah. The business card scene.
M-G Exactly. But no, hang on, what is the Phil Collin’s scene?
PAYNE There’s a whole chapter in the book about Phil Collins.
M-G I was 14 when I read it maybe I was too young – I definitely didn’t know who Phil Collins was.
PAYNE Apparently, my dad was so appalled after reading American Psycho that he took it down to the end of the garden and burned it in a bonfire. Proper oil drum job. Maybe he was distraught by Phil Collins.
M-G I feel that now myself. lol. So this play. It was like a post-apocalyptic version of that. Well actually your dad already sounds deeply apocalyptic.
PAYNE My dad in his pants? BBQ tongs in one hand. A well thumbed Brett Easton Ellis in the other.
M-G But no I just mean that one business card scene.
PAYNE That scene is post-apocalyptic!
M-G Post nuclear, yes I suppose so.
PAYNE Another show from Americans dealing with America.
PAYNE I wonder if they saw Monkey Mom?
M-G Also, this play then, it reminded me a little of ‘Mr Burns A Post-Electric Play’ in a very distant way. In so far as it felt like a world made up of versions of America I only know from other media about America.
PAYNE A parody then?
M-G But at this point, and maybe this is a little Adorno for you, but at this point I no longer find the USA funny.
PAYNE Because it is a parody of itself? Oh I see, it was a parody of itself, and now it is something much more sinister.
M-G Like the killer in Silence of the Lambs making a flesh suit.
PAYNE In In the Woods Where the Men Work, is that a buffalo puppet? Did you know the Buffalo has been almost entirely hunted to extinction? This great American symbol. And they killed it. It’s also possible to make an entirely meaningful sentence just from the word Buffalo… Buffalo buffalo, buffalo buffalo, buffalo, buffalo. I’m not sure where to put the commas… but basically, it means-
M-G I took it as a bull, the aggressive and optimistic symbol of a rising stock market. At one point it ate one of the characters.
PAYNE What does that mean? Joseph and his seven fat cows come to mind. But maybe that’s my preoccupation with Andrew Lloyd Weber’s classic-
M-G You know that bull statue outside of the stock market in New York, how then that picture of the defiant girl appeared in front of it-
PAYNE Yes, yes but actually the girl was paid for and commissioned by a leading mutual fund or some other, like, investment Banking group or something. It was just semiotic warfare. Propaganda and distraction.
M-G There was beautiful singing in the show too, for your musical needs.
PAYNE That In the Pines song, very melancholic.
M-G I was tempted to crawl in a ball under my seat and sleep the play away. I was quite distressed by it.
PAYNE Are you getting enough sleep?
M-G Who can sleep with drones overhead, IEDS on the road, and my phone beeping at all hours. They were a very disciplined performance company.
PAYNE in training or execution?
M-G Both. It was an Ox
PAYNE Hard Work. For you or for the performers?
M-G Both. And sometimes I think it has to be.
PAYNE How many self-glorifying brass statues out of five?
M-G Five missing bodies in the pines out of five. Maybe there’s more.
Seeeee you, Prague