The 18th edition of Prague Fringe, a festival of alternative theater and performance, is well under way. Some of the early acts have or are wrapping up and a second wave is about to begin. The festival runs to June 1 at various venues in Malá Strana.
Several shows end Tuesday, May 28, including Timon of Athens, The Wimps Show, and The Story of Faust.
One of Shakespeare’s more obscure plays, Timon of Athens, gets a manic comedy treatment with three actors playing all the parts by constantly switching hats. The play is reduced to its basic plot and done in modern language with several interpolated songs by Rendered Retina Theatre Company.
Also ending on May 28 is The Wimps Show, an evening of improv by the company Beach Comet. The show relies on suggestions from the audience, which are used in several different scenarios. The results are different every night.
There are also a few last chances to catch The Story of Faust, performed with puppets on top an elaborate custom-built contraption by Swedish troupe Skottes Musikteater. The show is a bit tongue in cheek, as puppet heads on the side of the main stage heckle the puppet masters and make suggestions about what direction the plot should take.
Two shows run the entire length of the festival: El Diablo of the Cards 2.0 and Running to Saint Sebastian. Both are in smaller venues.
El Diablo of the Cards 2.0 is an expanded version of last year’s card magic show, and has again been selling out. Brazilian prestidigitator Ewerton Martins does impressive close-up magic and has a winning attitude.
Running to Saint Sebastian has good word of mouth. It addresses some LGBT issues, with the main character reflecting on salvation as he lights candles for the saint who was, according to tradition, tied to a tree and shot with arrows. Canada’s Hard Times Company is back at the Fringe for the fourth time.
Several shows are just starting. The Man Who Was Thursday, performed by New Zealand’s Three Bridges troupe, has won multiple awards. One actor plays 20 characters in a dystopian comic fantasy of a man infiltrating something called the Supreme Council of Anarchy. It runs from May 27 to June 1.
Another one-person show is The Pied Piper, performed by Hanna Marouchka, She plays 15 characters in the folk tale. The show had a sold-out run at the Melbourne Fringe. It runs May 28 to June 1.
Some physical comedy can be found in Lucille and Cecilia, put on by England’s Bang Average Theatre. It’s a tale involving two mustachioed sea lions planning an escape from a circus. The two actresses bark and flop around to convey the plot. It runs May 28 to June 1.
Running for only three shows, BBC Radio 4 star Sarah Kendall presents a work in progress. She brings her storytelling to Prague for the first time on May 30 to June 1.
Back after a sold out run last year, Fetch Theatre presents Caliban’s Codex, a show inspired by themes form Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Caliban, a half human son of witch, tries to piece together fragments of Prospero’s books to find a way to save the island from human influence. It runs May 28 to June 1.
This is just a sampling of the shows on offer. A full schedule can be found at https://www.praguefringe.com/ and more information at https://www.facebook.com/events/280009259555401/