May 22, pt. 1, The Pen and the Sword

No nap yesterday, although today it's almost certain. At least I'm not hungover.

I'm breaking yesterday into separate posts so that I can write at least briefly about the shows I saw, starting with The Pen and the Sword, a six-person piece (England, USA) about a British cartoonist who's had a fatwa placed on his head for one of his political cartoons. The theme is all about civil society, responsibility, and they try to mitigate that dramatically through farce and satire. The main character (played by the author, I think) goes through a series of episodes encountering various people, including a phone operator from Sheboygan Falls, WI, who's taken a job outsourced from England for the Emergency Help line, a cop, his dad, his U.S. agent, and his friend who converted to the Religion In Question.

They're playing in the proper theater space at Divadlo na Prádle, which is below the kavárna. I'll try to remember to get a picture of the sign outside the kavárna doors that show the height of the Vltava waters when it flooded back in the 90s. Which is to say, the theater proper was probably almost entirely submerged.

Anyhow - their timing was a bit off, the lines were good but they would've been funnier if the cues had come faster, and there were some odd choices of black (or blue) outs between some scenes. It's hard to come down on this too hard, though, especially given my perf last night, which was far from tight. That'll be part III.

It wasn't knock-you-down funny, but that's not what they were going for. The humor was really there to get their message across. James, our hero, has as his major conflict the choice to retract his cartoon and apologize, or not. Smartly, they didn't give an answer. They set up all of the conflicts in progressively silly ways, and leave the audience with him prepared to make his decision without telling us what he'll do.

Good house, too, probably close to 40 people, maybe more? Giles, the TD for the Fringe, told me after my show last night that they've had a very strong opening. This is particularly good as the Festival was turned down for a major grant from the city earlier this year.

Here's their website: http://www.blacksnow.info/

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