Prague Fringe 2013
False Friends is the extraordinary new play by Prague based Australian author, Stuart Mentha. With his second play at the Prague Fringe, Stuart has chanced his arm with an incredibly ambitious dramatic comedy. The dialogue is in both English and Czech and are accompanied by subtitles. Absolutely nothing is lost in translation and the superbly witty use of the ‘language barrier’ device as a comedy tool is very well handled.
This is a story of lost souls looking for redemption, young love and the fear of commitment, existential crisis in an absurd universe, and not forgetting the most exciting part; it’s a ‘ghost story’! Very appropriate for a town brimming with famous phantoms.
False Friends is what the Fringe is all about. It is an original, surprising and wonderfully entertaining combination of belly laughs and philosophical observation.
After the success of Stuart’s first play ‘Deja Vu’, which premiered at the Prague Fringe in 2012, this was a real test of his writing ability, and the risks he took to better himself pay off tremendously. I overheard one audience member call this the ‘Pulp Fiction’ to his ‘Reservoir Dogs’. His themes remain the same; relationships, love, death and the after life.
As with ‘Deja Vu’ the plot of False Friends teases us with curiously incomplete snippets of information throughout. Stuart expertly interweaves all of these intriguing machinations into a fully satisfying work with all loose ends tied by the end of the play.
The entire cast really sink their teeth into their roles and play off each other with a naturalism that belies the short time they have worked together; Martin Ucik (Vitek) having joined the cast only three weeks prior to the opening night!
Mention must also be made of Peter Hosking’s excellent direction. This is by no means an easy script to perform, since a large percentage of the humor is based on rather complex comic timing. However Peter has managed to bring out not only the essence of Stuart Mentha’s ideas but also the infectious energy of a cast whose belief in this brilliant project shines through on the stage.
The play was performed at the lovely Kampa Theatre to a warm and magnificently receptive audience.
We can only hope that the run will continue elsewhere, and soon.