Czechoslovak-American puppet theater introduces audiences to absurd comedy – Times Square Chronicles
Public written by Vaclav Havel, translated, performed and directed by Vit Horejs is an absurd comedy. Focus on a time in Havel’s life when he was fired to work in a brewery as punishment for writing critical articles about the Communist Czechoslovak government Public follows his fictitious alter ego. Here Ferdinand Vanek is the one who is used to being summoned by the master brewer (Teresa Linnihan) for endless repetitions of dialogue in the midst of excessive beer consumption.
Havel will eventually move from a prison cell to the presidential palace: From 1989 to 2003 and through the tutelage of the newly formed Czech Republic, Havel led his people towards democracy throughout his long presidency.
With the infusion of CAMT’s puppets, The Bohemian Theater presented what is billed as Havel’s funniest and most absurd play. In a unique setting, spectators have two large screens to watch with four different cameras covering the action. While the set and stage are sufficient to see the performance, the large screens add a superb effect highlighting the puppets which are part of the essence of the piece.
The concept of the production is by Vit Horejs and Theresa Linnihan, are adept at giving the puppets a realistic shape from the start. From a right-to-wrong standpoint, Vanek (Vit Horejs) refuses to help the master brewer write weekly reports about him that offend his boss. Vanek supports his managers even if it means he won’t have the cozy position of running the warehouse. At first it seems the Brewmaster holds all the cards, but as the play progresses Vanek, an acclaimed writer, a man celebrated by other writers and actors has all the power and strength. The master brewer needs him, his alcohol consumption has weakened him as the boss of the brewery. He’s a man who relishes the good old days when things were going better. In a weak attempt, the Brewmaster attempts a psychological warfare with pointless chatter, awkward questioning, flattery, and drinking to make Vanek see things his way.
While the acting was well done, the puppets enjoyable, the story was repetitive and sometimes long. The plot has way too much to say, but it doesn’t have enough dialogue consistency during the 60-minute performance. Rather than repeating questions, this piece would be best served with a deeper dialogue that leaves the audience more to chew on.
Public: June 23 and 29 at 8:00 p.m. at the Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street, as part of the 2021 Rehearsal for Truth festival.