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The 17th Prague Fringe is well under way

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Prague Fringe is well into its 17th edition and runs until June 2 at nine venues in Prague’s Malá Strana district.

The fringe concept is to present alternative theater in small venues, with productions ranging from one-person shows to dramas with a small cast.

The Fringe had a bit of a upbeat start, with several comedies and whimsical productions having a short run. The more heavy material is about to start.

Plays just starting include two related to Shakespeare: Caliban’s Codex, a contemplation on The Tempest by It’s Not Us, and Comedy of Errors by Australian Shakespeare Company. At the end of the Fringe, there will be Hamlet (An Experience) by Brite Theater of England.

Back again is Johnny Darlin with a new show called Songs About Boys, which as the title hints mixes LGBT themes and music. Later in the Fringe, the London Gay Men’s Chorus Ensemble will put on a show called Songs of Gays. Also starting soon is Young Oscar; Wilde in San Francisco.

An expected highlight for the end of the Fringe is Games by Henry Naylor, performed by Redbeard Theatre.

Fans of stage magic this year can see El Diablo of the Cards. His run starts may 29, but a short preview at the Fringe Sunday wowed the crowd.

A play that has had good word of mouth is Scotland, by the international group Latebloomers. This will play until the end of the festival. The physical comedy by three actually not Scottish actors has been filling Divadlo Inspirace. People who have seen have praised it for not dwelling on tired stereotypes and cliches, and instead being more clever with its concepts.

Several shows ended their runs already.

A standout was Aliens of Mons, by Polish company Teatr ad Spectatores. It is hard to come up with a new concept, but this crew delivers something that hasn’t been seen before. The actors lie on the black floor of the stage do mime-like movements. This is filmed live from the ceiling and projected on a screen as if it was a silent film. The topic is World War I, so there are some fights on screen, and a bit of drama.

Another hit was Old Bones, by Scotland’s Little and Large Theatre. The premise of the compelling monologue has to do with a relative of alchemist John Dee. The relative has made a deal with the Devil. But there have been some complications.

Also just ending its brief run was Conflicts of Interest, by Mirth of Forth Productions. Actor and comedian Richard Pulsford was here last year with a rapid-fire show of puns. This time he turns serious with a reflection on his actual relatives who fought in World War I, which ended 100 years ago this year, as well as the fates of other relatives in both World Wars.

There is a saying about some events being as much fun as a funeral. The French group Compagnie O Quel Dommage staged a rather funny funeral for a man named Henri, who only appears in a picture and in an urn. Three woman compete to see who can mourn the most, and it is quite a competition. The play is all but nonverbal and surprisingly the three actresses can stretch the idea into a full hour without losing the audience’s attention. The exact relation of the women to Henri is not clear, and guessing is part of the fun.

Nathan & Ida’s Hot Dog Stand, by UK duo Nathan & Ida, chronicles the life of two immigrants who had a stand on Coney Island. The show is filled with tap dance, vintage music, and rapid dialogue in old-movie inspired slang. The duo has a lot of energy and they get behind their characters. They get the slang pretty good, for the most part.

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