‘Heather and Harry’,
Photography by Michaela Bockova
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
Stumble Trip Theatre (UK)
M-G I spoke to a woman afterwards and told her that I wasn’t sure I had the capacity to love this show. Or love at all. She was not a young woman and she said yes she understood. About capacity.
PAYNE So this is a young person’s show? Or a show about the capacity to love ‘another’?
M-G I don’t think it’s about capacity so much as it is about societal limitations – misogyny, patriarchy, learned and enforced roles. But on the young person business I think it is telling that the company are retiring the show.
PAYNE This was the final season?
M-G Maybe it’s one of those fakes that old rock stars do – ‘farewell tour’ ‘goodbye tour’ ‘reunion tour’ ‘final tour of all time’.
PAYNE I had a reunion show of the Silver Rocket Club and after…
M-G I threw roses on stage afterwards.
PAYNE Roses don’t come in black, though. I don’t believe you. Anyway, afterwards-
M-G after what?
PAYNE … after the reunion show. a guy and his wife propositioned me. Swingers. They thought I was a swinger too. And not a blade of pampas grass in sight.
M-G What is that reference? Maybe I’m a young person after all.
PAYNE In the 70s and 80s if you had a pampas grass bush in your front garden it meant you were a swinger. But that’s not the point. The point is that we’d always have a fake ending. Five songs. Leave the stage. Then come back for the encore. Five more songs. Done. That’s on the laminated setlist from 2008. So do you think that’s what they’re doing with this show? Maybe there is a second half but you didn’t clap hard enough?
M-G Only like I say, I’m not sure I have it in me to clap hard enough for that true love.
PAYNE The roses seem a stretch for you.
M-G It didn’t suit me but it was what the play was about. I tried to take out all the thorns before hand but one of the actresses told me the next day at the festival club that she’d still been pricked by them. And asked why I hated them. It’s quite the opposite.
PAYNE The play was about romantic love?
M-G And grand gestures. And pricks. But also there was a song that was a bit like that Lily Allen song about London where she looks around and at first it’s beautiful but then with the rose coloured glasses off it’s hellish.
PAYNE That suits you better.
M-G It was a hopeful show.
PAYNE Camus says about hope that…
M-G … hope has nothing to do with despair.
PAYNE did you despair?
M-G Of course but I delighted too. You know there’s this scene in the musical Gypsy and one of the strippers that sings You’ve got to Have a Gimmick gets asked by a stage manager to fill in on one of the burlesque bits at the theatre they’re at (aka a non stripping act) and in response this very self assured dancer says something like ‘I told him (the theatre’s producer) I don’t do scenes’. This show, to me, it felt like whatever that scene was that the show girl wouldn’t do – Heather and Harry is a burlesque of a love story. It’s powerful, sexy, mad, accessible, relatable, damning, tricky, and the performers (pianist included) are very talented, likeable, and industrious. One of them confided to me that I’d come on their less than best night.
PAYNE What went wrong?
M-G The audience, she said. And looked at me pointedly.
PAYNE It’s not them it’s you.
M-G It was really very romantic. And confident. And ouch my heart.
PAYNE How many socially pressured, blood diamond engagement rings did the advertisers con you into buying out of five?
M-G Five bloody finger tips from thorned roses out of five.
Seeeee you, Prague