Take that…

After two decades of relative quiet, politically driven art starts to become more powerful again. The young generation’s gratefulness for freedom has gradually changed into a hunch thatn it’s not going to be so hot and artistic protest has moved from underground to exhibition and concert halls as well as theaters. Young director Braňo Holiček decided to embrace his Political cabaret or take that shit quite differently than simply as a slapstic comedy. Even though there is no lack of excrement on the stage in Prague’s Meet Factory, this performance is definitely not about faecal humor.

Holiček’s stage is almost empty and he only uses three actors (Marie Štípková, Ivan Lupták, Radovan Klučka) who fill the genre of cabaret with several sketches and songs. The more sparse the props, the richer the conversation. The individual scenes are mostly connected by the issue of corruption but the performance is not only about the stars of current political scandals. Even though Kikina (President Klaus’nickname), Putin, and members of Věci veřejné (Czech political party) appear on the stage, there is also Pepa, a greedy mayor of a small village in the Olomouc county, or journalist Jarouš who supports his buddy – a minister, in his articles. There’s also an angry citizen – a gullible blockhead who believes everything that politicians and the media say. Tragic protagonists of the individual sketches are thus corrupt and stupid people of all kinds. The spectator thus realizes that it is not only the top levels of politics that are governed by general principles like – being buddies, being drunk by power and money the power of which actors compare to cocaine. The individual sketches are interconnected by topics and the plot. Just as in real life, everybody needs everybody in a cabaret.

From the whole spectrum of situations, the viewer comes to discover that most characters have suprisingly much in common. This shifts the performance from superficial entertainment to a more clever reflection of the situation in society. The performance does not only focus on bribery but also on the issue of our morality. It tries to answer the following questions: What is the reason and what is the consequence? Do the dissatisfied citizens know what they want and do they actually do anything to accomplish their goals? A humorous sketch in which an engry anti-government demonstrator who is able to explain his intentions only in empty vulgarisms explains a lot. The actors do a great job at articulating the screenplay, there’s chilling humor even when dealing with the most serious issues, and the urgency of the message is present from beginning to end. These are probably the strongest points of the performance.

There are a few moments when the performance is not far from a slapstic comedy and sometimes there is too much pessimism (comparing the Czeh Republic to the Russian Federation is just way too much) but otherwise Political cabaret works well.

At the beginning of the performance a big shit appears on the stage and nobody wants to clear it away. Several other pieces fall down on the stage during the performance and in the end, spectators are presented with pieces of excrement with whipped cream on top of them. Just to make it clear – these are made of coccoa batter. Actors present their audience with the same thing like the politicians but they’re doing it in a more descriptive way. It is not only in this unconventional ending that the authors of this performance ask us: What will you do with this?

published: 29. 7. 2012