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
Three Bridges (New Zealand)
M-G Do you watch Mark Gatiss shows?
PAYNE League of Gentleman?
M-G Ah, so that was an interesting show but no, the ones since then, Dr Who, Sherlock.
M-G This could have been a pitch for a feature film to be produced by Gatiss.
PAYNE He’s always in his shows.
M-G He’s not likeable is he – the actor in this work though; he is very likeable.
PAYNE And he played all the characters.
M-G Yes, so maybe Gatiss would never pick the show up because where could he slot in? But he would be convincing as any of the characters – likely he’d choose Sunday, the head of the anarchists. It’s a really fun show. It has a chase scene. Like, I want to be in it too.
PAYNE How do you do a chase scene in theatre?
M-G Well, he sort of just ran through the audience, which I’m telling you, I understand is not very effective, but live… something weird happened in this show, I can’t explain what but other audience members I spoke to said the same and I can only imagine it is a combination of an efficient design and delivery, and clear character definition, and a very good text. While the set was essentially bare, save for a man and a chair and a sword, and black curtains – I found myself imagining the locations of the work in vivid detail. Details that surprised me as they weren’t even being described on stage.
PAYNE I’m imagining them now.
M-G The actor then said afterwards in the bar that theatre is an imaginative art – that film and TV etc. give you all the answers but theatre can not. Or something like that. I’m not sure I agree, but this show – I agree about this show.
PAYNE Yeah, theatre best not compete with TV and film for didacticism.
M-G Another thing, after one show, so I’m told, someone came up to complain that the show is unkind or offensive or something like that: to anarchists. I am not sure how anyone could come to this because my reading was that this was a satire of the indulgence of Scotland Yard. I can’t say too much more without spoilers. The other thing is I’m not even sure one need read the work literally. I found myself troubled on a more internal political level. Genuinely wrestling with my own compulsions to police vs my wishes for anarchy.
PAYNE Don’t you say “ACAB” (All cops are-
M-G Bastards yes, but then, and I think you can agree that like watching mystery shows and /or police detective novels etc. it’s very captivating. And I think we all want to feel moral. Like Life on Mars was a great show.
PAYNE Not least because of the Bowie title song and because people say I look like a young John Simm. Did Man Thursday have a soundtrack?
M-G No and maybe that’s the limit of a 55 minute fringe show. Oh hey Sherlock Holmes… Is he a policeman?
PAYNE No he’s a private detective.
M-G But he tends to work on the side of the law doesn’t he. Does that make him a state apparatus? Is he a tool of oppression?
PAYNE Mostly he’s solving fairly domestic murders so I shouldn’t think that’s the case.
M-G Maybe his powers are wasted on the puzzles he is routinely involved in.
PAYNE He should have been an anarchist?
M-G I left thinking we should all be anarchists and also worried I wouldn’t make it through customs on the way back to the UK again for saying so here in print.
PAYNE Does an adaptation of a novel written in 1900 hold its weight 120 years later – or is it just entertainment now?
M-G well, I think, as we said, even in 1900 it was meant to be taken as a metaphysical exercise as well as literal.
M-G No buts. It is very entertaining.
PAYNE So it is not anarchic?
M-G I spoke to a potential audient who said they did not attend as they didn’t want to see a white man play dress ups and do ‘great acting’ and see ‘great directing’. And I think maybe, that person, for themselves, they were right. Despite the New Zealand origins of the actor, it’s a very straight, white English work of theatre.
PAYNE But it is troubling.
M-G Within those boundaries, yes, very. And like Kafka’s Ape, it felt like a work as at home in the fringe as it could be on a mainstage.
PAYNE Which is not a good or a bad thing?
M-G There’s a great line in the play about not letting anarchy devolve into chaos and I can’t remember it now, but I do recall the very alienating and disturbing blackouts that happen throughout the work.
PAYNE From blackouts?
M-G In a room full of people – I suspect everyone was feeling very alone, at those moments.
PAYNE How many elaborate and possibly comic disguises out of five?
M-G Five police badges out of five.
Seeeee you, Prague