The increasingly absurd world of Czech politics is proving a huge success at a small Prague theatre house which is drawing the crowds with a political cabaret based on real life politics. Actors reciting verbatim excerpts from wiretappings involving prominent politicians and statements from the scandalous trial against the de-facto leader of one of the ruling parties keep the audience in gales of laughter; a sad testimony of the sorry state of Czech politics.
Barbora Poláková as Kristýna Kočí, photo: CTK
The Blonde Bitch Strikes Again is a follow up to a successful performance staged by the Rubin theatre ensemble at about this time last year and revolves around the latest escapades of the junior coalition party Public Affairs which is never short on scandal. Its de-facto leader Vít Bárta is currently being tried for corruption –creating emotional scenes in the courtroom where he recently shed tears over the ingratitude of former party members who accuse him of bribery – and –the Blonde Bitch – Kristýna Kočí – who seems to go through life secretly recording meetings with political friends and foes – recently produced a tape that has led the junior party to accuse its coalition members of helping to instigate a coup within the smallest party. The political circus which is on the prime time news every night was too much for the judge who also lost his cool and burst out laughing at the testimony of a witness recently and a lay judge in the trial was expelled after telling the media that the trial made her “feel like vomiting”, and described the case as a cesspool. The play’s director Tomáš Svoboda explains why secret recordings have taken centre stage.
Lukáš Příkazký as Vít Bárta, photo: CTK
“You know when the first secret recordings surfaced a year ago I thought it was a one-off thing. But scarily it has become the norm. We are flooded with them now and transcripts of wiretappings and secretly recorded conversations between politicians come out all the time –in fact they come so fast that we can’t keep the cabaret script up-to-date. So we have one of the actors say that he has secret recordings of everyone –everyone in the country – and they better leave him alone.”
The junior party in government is not the only one providing inspiration for the surrealistic performance. The ruling Civic Democrats have also been hit by a wiretapping scandal indicating that the former mayor of Prague – Pavel Bem – was nothing but a puppet in the hands of an influential lobbyist. Whole segments of these conversations –peppered with vulgarities and secret code names - are recited to an appreciative audience.
Since the performance is a medley involving several ongoing scandals and well known political figures it required a framework to hold it together. The story line is that of a successful cabaret where the actors go haywire and the whole thing falls to pieces. Director Tomáš Svoboda again:
Ondřej Pavelka, photo: CTK
“The story revolves around the owner of a cabaret – played by Ondřej Pavelka – who has this successful enterprise but suddenly all these bizarre figures appear who start acting crazy and transform the cabaret into madhouse where there are crazy scenes from a courtroom and where the order and discipline that formerly reigned is replaced by pandemonium.“
Lead actor Ondřej Pavelka says it is good to see how responsive and appreciative the audience is.
“You know the world of present day Czech politics is so much “out of joint” that the only defence we have –we Czechs – is to ridicule it and laugh at it.”
Unlike the audience which lets off steam from mounting public discontent with Czech politics – visiting politicians –notably parliament deputy Kristýna Koči who inspired The Blond Bitch and is prominently featured in the follow -up are far from happy with what they see. Director Tomáš Svoboda says he is not surprised the play is hard for politicians to digest.
Kristýna Kočí, photo: CTK
“The face to face meeting with deputy Kočí was mutually unpleasant. Miss Kočí was very put out by what she saw and I must say that I can understand why. When a politician faces a crowd at a demonstration –things are different. They expect some degree of opposition and can tell themselves they are defending their convictions. It goes with the territory, so to speak. But here there were 250 people laughing their heads off at authentic statements she had made, clearly not taking her seriously. Ridicule is a powerful weapon and if it is the only way to get through to politicians whom we do not respect and want to get rid of then I am happy to offer my own small contribution to that process.”
The Blond Bitch Strikes Again premiered on April Fools’ Day but for ten million Czechs this play is no joke – it is the political reality of the present day.