‘On Top’,
Promotional Photography
by Hirriam Harrington

‘On Top’,
Live Photography,
photographer unknown

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

On Top

OXBO (Ireland)

M-G  I went to a ‘fashion week’ recently. Oh, side note, for anyone reading, YES, Doppelgangster are going to start selling art/clothes in collaboration with artists/designers to be announced…

PAYNE Finally, we can give up the whole theatre racket and get on Project Runway.

M-G And at this fashion week I was really shocked. Like, I think again this is about the power of live performance perhaps, but so, like, really shocked by the homogeneity of the models (and the clothing but that I think I found less horrifying because you see that everywhere).

PAYNE Horrifying?

M-G Oh, very beautiful individually, but as a whole group – the exclusion, required to have that level of sameness, it was horrifying.

PAYNE When we saw this show – and the reader should be aware this is the only Prague Fringe Festival show we both actually saw. Actually, heads up, it’s the only show I saw, aside from sneaky peeking in at the side of Jasmine Day and Teleport – I had a similar thought thinking about the Spice Girls.

M-G Which one are you?

PAYNE Old Imperialist Oppressor Spice.

M-G I’m Colonial Servant Spice.

PAYNE British East India Company Spice.

M-G Property of Her Majesty Spice.

PAYNE Cinnamon Challenge Spice.

M-G WW3 Spice.

PAYNE This is an Irish show – On Top. So I imagine, just a little, that already gives an outsider perspective, through which to critique dominant hegemonies of the West.

M-G That’s very generous of you.

PAYNE You mentioned Pan Pan – as an established Irish company working in post-dramatic forms. And the evident aesthetic similarities.

M-G Yes, ok, so maybe that is true, and perhaps even they have a similar theatrical approach – based on Pan Pan works I’ve seen in the past – deconstruction as one of the guiding principles for critique. 

PAYNE Derridean?

M-G So French, so chic. so likely the product of dropping acid.

PAYNE Fashion!

M-G And so the work had that kind of late 60s happening feel didn’t it?  Which I think you’d also find from say Gob Squad or-

PAYNE Forced Entertainment.

M-G Sheffield represent. Steeel City!

PAYNE The performed spectacle of re-creating a fashion runway and then subverting it to a strip club catwalk, and then a public execution.

M-G Maybe it’s because of some kind of anti-British / anti-establishment fetishism in me as a product of the antipodes but I do relish an Irishman in a balaclava.

PAYNE But then he was so quickly the villain too.

M-G As the only man in the show.

PAYNE Except the DJ.

M-G Except the DJ.

PAYNE He played some trashy songs didn’t he?

M-G Walking that balance between utterly obnoxious and fist-pumping anthem.

PAYNE Which seemed appropriate given the work was staged metres away from the Fringe Club dance floor and bar.

M-G This was another show with food waste.

PAYNE The lettuces?

M-G Yes, when the two women competing in the- pageant? – the competition? The Miss America-to-the-death. When they each tried to eat a whole lettuce as quickly as they could. A thrilling little spectacle.

PAYNE But yes, there was some food waste. A half a lettuce or so.

M-G It made me hungry.

PAYNE Maybe that’s part of it? I was hungry too.

M-G And thirsty?

PAYNE I thought the potential to drive me to thirst through the performing of the overt sexy dancing on stage was mitigated by lighting the audience on the other side of the traverse.

M-G Mitigated or encouraged further?

PAYNE In their press material they say the work will be what we (the audience and the company) make of it.

M-G It turns out the same woman/contestant/performer wins the in-show competition every night.

PAYNE How many times did you go?

M-G I am not sure I follow the dramaturgical conceit of that.

PAYNE Someone has to win.

M-G Did you pick the winner?

PAYNE I think in going to the show we both picked a winner.

M-G The hooded man had a real knife on stage.

PAYNE Don’t we have a show where you do that? Stand hooded with a knife?

M-G Yes ‘The Eternity of the World’. I’d quite forgotten. Seeing someone else do it though, now I see it, it is a dangerous thing. Only companies like ours and theirs, travelling occasionally without stage managers, could get away with such reckless abandon.

PAYNE Thrilling isn’t it.

M-G Very Happening.

PAYNE I was genuinely worried when they would hood the loser contestants and then pretend to stab them. But also, and this is horrible, but also frustrated that they weren’t being stabbed. Not that I want anyone to be injured. But the promise was there. That it could have been like Monica Seles, or Marina Abramović getting-

M-G The clothes cut off –

PAYNE That was Yoko Ono too.

M-G Very happening.

PAYNE When they poured the bag of rubbish on the ground. Maybe that was an invitation?

M-G It’s funny how we – ie. British, Irish, Australian – don’t say the word ‘trash’ for rubbish, but it is now in the lexicon for like badly behaved or worthless or like you know the sort of people or types that I mean. Trashy. Human Trash. There’s quite a few variations. I felt quite repulsed by the trash on the ground.

PAYNE I could have done with much more of it. Proper dirty trash though.

M-G It was actually old props and costumes from previous OXBO productions.

PAYNE And it was confronting. As a consumer. To have it thrown in our face. Why we see so much of our lives as disposable. Things. Purchases. People.

M-G It felt messy. I feel like a mess.

PAYNE A hot mess though right? How many big bags of *trash* out of five?

M-G Five superstar male DJs out of five.

Seeeee you, Prague