‘The Family Blimp’,
Photography by Hoi Man Tang.
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
KLUMP COMPANY (England)
TOBIAS It didn’t bother me that the actor playing an out of control terror-baby drank my 3 pound bottle of Tesco banana, pineapple and coconut smoothie, but that she threw my energy and protein bar irretrievably under the seating bank was unforgivable.
DR PAYNE It reminds me of that time you got cross with that guy doing that performance in the toilets for rubbing sausage meat all over your rugby jersey. Didn’t National Theatre Wales issue you with an Anti Social Behaviour Order?
TOBIAS It was more an unofficial final warning for ‘ruining summer camp’ and his crime was anti-vegan performance whereas this was just general food waste.
DR PAYNE The dangers of audience participation.
TOBIAS Theatre – good theatre –
DR PAYNE This sounds regrettable.
TOBIAS ok let’s just say theatre then – theatre is always participatory in a way isn’t it?
DR PAYNE participatory theatre is also an established medium, or genre.
TOBIAS but there is always choice isn’t there?
DR PAYNE often the choices are remarkably limited.
TOBIAS Or limited assumed choices?
DR PAYNE yes and the outcomes, then, are not as clear as say Vote Leave Vs Vote Stay.
TOBIAS Sometimes that’s the only option isn’t it?
DR PAYNE You didn’t walk out?!
TOBIAS No no, though, ok that’s hardly a vote of confidence in the work is it. With our polite English manners.
DR PAYNE You clapped at the end?
TOM and the rest is a chaos?
TOBIAS but the chaos means the potential are so much greater.
DR PAYNE and there were rewards?
TOBIAS I saw four stars on stage.
DR PAYNE Is that you subtly giving their show four stars?
TOBIAS They asked me for five.
DR PAYNE Cruel.
TOBIAS This troupe of four are the best clowns I’ve seen in a half a decade.
DR PAYNE Do you get out much?
TOBIAS Cruel. There’s a force in a group of talent that size too as opposed to the proliferation of solo and dual clown acts.
DR PAYNE Did they buy you a new juice?
TOBIAS They are artists Tom. They can’t afford juice.
DR PAYNE Between four of them? Did you push it?
TOBIAS The Klump Company are elite physical performers; I’ve got to pick my battles.
DR PAYNE Who is this show for?
TOBIAS A voice in the lobby mentioned Bob’s Burgers.
DR PAYNE So their prime audience is a fictional television cartoon family?
TOBIAS I think in fringe scenes the Dr Browns, Ben Targets, and Red Bastards of the world have a contender with Klump Company.
DR PAYNE You do get out. What’s next?
DR PAYNE Cruel!
TOBIAS More tomorrow. It’s nearly bedtime. Then we can discuss how I’ve been out at the fringe club every night and subsequently fallen asleep in a number of shows and it has not the least ruined my experience.
DR PAYNE Not in the Family Blimp though?
TOBIAS It wasn’t safe for me to shut my eyes.
DR PAYNE ah for you to… but they played safe?
TOBIAS The game show scene was decidedly not safe.
DR PAYNE Have you ever been to the taping of a game show?
TOBIAS Yes. I can’t name which one but the host was stoned out of his mind and kept saying everything was ‘cool bananas’.
DR PAYNE Not for children then.
TOBIAS Parental guidance recommended.
DR PAYNE Not least of which for that baby.
TOBIAS I nearly forgot to mention, it felt like as someone who is Australian, so like sort of British but not – actually maybe that’s not important – just that it was very easy language but nevertheless very direct with message.
DR PAYNE because half the performers are French not English.
DR PAYNE so it ought to travel well.
TOBIAS yeah like who sings Rocket Man?
DR PAYNE Elton John?? How do you get that?
TOBIAS Funny oversized glasses, bright hyper-stylised costume and movement. Epic presentation. Absurd, uplifting, occasionally self referential, the odd moment of darkness, a big heart.
DR PAYNE I prefer Piano Man to Rocket Man. As far as pop songs about a Man go.
TOBIAS there is an almost Dadaist performance of a bit of Sound of Music in the show too.
DR PAYNE Classic musical – cheery songs about arguably the most horrific events of the 20th Century.
TOBIAS and ultimately The Famy Blimp has a similar universality to it – re: thoughts on borders, forced migration, suppression of migrant cultures through programs of ‘integration’, and alienation and isolation in foreign lands.
DR PAYNE Are you homesick?
TOBIAS I didn’t find catharsis in the show – I didn’t feel part of the family. Or if I did it didn’t make me feel any better.
DR PAYNE Epic, then.
TOBIAS absurd like Ubu Roi, or The Bald Primadonna.
DR PAYNE funny then?
DR PAYNE What does the name mean; the Family Blimp?
TOBIAS Blimps really fell out of favour after the Hindenburg.
DR PAYNE ‘OH, the humanity’.
TOBIAS and concordes are gone too.
DR PAYNE I never flew in a concorde.
TOBIAS ‘oh the humanity’.
DR PAYNE How many burning zeppelins out of five?
TOBIAS Five baby bottles out of five.
Seeeee you, Prague