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
TOOTH’N’FANG (USA, Costa Rica, New Zealand)
M-G Before going into this show a glass fell three stories out of a hotel room and struck a man on the skull. He seemed confused, and then sat in the front row and I wonder what he thinks happened.
PAYNE Did the show have a concussive essence?
M-G Throbbing (music and bodies), brutal (text and images), and a partly painful / partly euphoric insistence on avoiding what we might consider conscious thought patterns.
PAYNE In the deep midwinter giant icicles fall from the tops of tall buildings onto the pavements in the Latvian capital city of Riga. People can often be found lying prostrate with icy daggers poking out of the backs of their heads. They have warning signs everywhere. And they drape hazard tape about the place to stop pedestrians from absent mindedly walking into dangerous situations. Is this relevant to your / his spectatorial experience?
M-G Maybe. They didn’t have hazard tape but they did wash the whole show in heavy saturated red LED lighting. Also how do you know that? About Riga? And could you stab people with icicles and just blame the buildings. That’s horrific.
PAYNE Red lighting? The whole show?!
M-G Is it true that one of the reasons brothels use red light is because your blemishes disappear?
PAYNE I’ve certainly never heard of blue / UV brothel lighting.
M-G And hell is never shown in blue is it? Or on stage anger?
PAYNE Did the show have blemishes?
M-G The performers only stripped to their underwear – and only briefly
PAYNE briefly in their briefs.
PAYNE So still a little more could be shown?
M-G It bared a great deal. Perhaps. and I don’t know if I mean that literally – And ok this is really weird but about the glass that fell on that man’s head… as we write this a construction worker also just dropped a glass out of a three story window of my accomodation.
PAYNE Is Monkey Mom cursed? Or blessed?
M-G It is powerful.
PAYNE like a wash and dryer? A water purifier? A war led by a group called the pacifiers?
M-G The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was a US Bomber between 1941-1968. Roughly the main three decades that Monkey Mom critiques.
PAYNE The blood drenched golden era of America.
M-G The American Dream TM
PAYNE The American Fantasia (C).
M-G USS Nightmare.
PAYNE The B-52?
M-G Ah that’s a larger craft concerned initially with nukes. So, the b-24 is a decade earlier but, yes, very similar. So with the B-24 Liberator –
PAYNE Robert Altman, film director, was a B-24 co-pilot, flying over 50 bombing missions in Borneo and the Dutch East Indies. Jimmy Stewart flew one too. And JFK’S eldest brother was killed in an ‘accident’ when one blew up mid-air for reasons.
M-G OK. Yes. For someone not at the show – you get this show. Macho, masochistic, intellectual, raised by television tragedies and late night TV. Also I don’t think I’ve seen a Robert Altman film before.
PAYNE He made the M*A*S*H film.
M-G There was a film? I thought I’d watched every black comedy war film there ever was. This is you teaching film for a decade and a half.
PAYNE It’s no Full Metal Jacket. But it won the Palme d’Or. It’s probably Altman’s best work. Also it smashed box office records.
M-G And I can see Monkey Mom doing all those things in a fringe theatre context. Full Metal Jacket isn’t a comedy though.
PAYNE But the subject of the capitalist Empire…
M-G This is Tim and Eric for queer club nights. Bill Hicks by way of John Waters.
PAYNE Or M*A*S*H the movie via Jimmy Stewart via JFK’S eldest brother.
M-G So with the B-24 Liberator –
M-G Stick with me.
PAYNE I might skim read.
M-G Like the B-24 Liberator this show featured: – a modern design; – highly efficient design; – high aspect ratio; – A very high cruise speed long range; and the ability to carry a heavy (content) load. As with the early Liberators I could see Monkey Mom crossing the Atlantic regularly and easily. Downside would be that in comparison with its contemporaries, the B-24/Monkey Mom seems relatively difficult to fly/perform and is not as effective when delivering at low speed. It also had a lower ceiling (dramatically/narratively/conceptually) and was less theatrically robust than it could be. Meanwhile this work / military aircraft is undeniably populist – I can’t imagine another work at the fringe more likely to get picked up for further long term production.
PAYNE Why are you so obsessed with a US war plane of the 40s-60s.
M-G There was this line in the play something like ‘living is a half price coupon at -’ and I don’t remember the rest of the line.
PAYNE What the hell?
M-G At that moment the show really dominated me. Blew me apart. Colonised my mind and body.
PAYNE I guess you had to be there.
M-G The nature of theatre.
PAYNE Sounds niche.
M-G You’d be surprised.
PAYNE So wait hang on hang on we saw – I nearly forgot this, we saw a two minute excerpt of the work at a club night. Two men stood on stage using masks in front of their faces. One a bloody eyed American housewife advertorial stereotype, the other your classic route 666 red pointy tailed cartoon devil. And then they held bananas and didn’t eat them.
M-G It’s madness that you have to buy bananas wrapped in plastic.
PAYNE What would Warhol think?
M-G “What would Warhol think?” is definitely the creative mantra of this work. Very New York, pop, 70s performance art.
PAYNE How do you know that?
M-G Velvet Underground was one of the first albums I owned.
PAYNE Did they eat the bananas in the actual show?
M-G No spoilers.
PAYNE When you had sweets in class the teacher uses to say ‘did you bring enough for everyone?’ did that happen to you?
PAYNE But if you had brought enough why would the teachers encourage a whole class to eat sweets.
M-G Only in America.
PAYNE And Australia and the UK.
M-G and Prague until Saturday.
PAYNE How many CIA acid tabs out of five?
M-G Five WalMart coffins out of five.
Seeeee you, Prague