New Czech-American play looks at dating across cultures

Alexander Komlosi and Eva Čechová

Prague’s Divadlo na Zábradlí may be famous for staging former President Václav Havel’s plays, but over the next couple of months, it will be playing host to something rather different. ‘Láska je love, love is láska’ is a performance in two languages - about what happens when an American boy meets a Czech girl. The play is set to be performed for only the second time ever on Wednesday night, but in the run up to the show, I went along to find out more:

Eva Čechová plays the female lead in the two-person cast of ‘Láska je love, love is láska’. She tells me a bit about the focus of the play:

“It is about meeting. Two people meet - a Czech girl and an American boy – they meet in the Czech Republic, in Prague. They want to start a relationship, they fall in love – it is a bit like a love story. But there is a problem, because neither of them can speak each other’s language. And there are lots of moments in our performance where we develop this comic theme.”

Mime is responsible for a lot of the comedy in the play, and there are long periods where nothing is said whatsoever. But, there are also sections where both of the actors are acting in what is for them a foreign language. I asked Eva Čechová if this was hard:

“It depends how well you know the language. I speak French very well, and I am learning English. So, in the performance I am playing a girl who doesn’t speak English very well, so it is not so difficult, this role for me – because it is quite close to reality. But in the play I use French as well, and this is, for the most part, easy for me.”

But what about the audience? Would someone who spoke only English or only Czech be able to follow the action? I asked director and male lead Alexander Komlosi just who exactly he thought this play was for:

“We tried to do it in a way so that there was enough Czech, and enough English, so that it could be for somebody who doesn’t understand one of the languages. But if you speak Czech even a little bit, you still get enough, and the stories switch and change fast enough and often enough so that you are still involved in enough of the action. Ideally the person speaks both languages, but they need not. I just spoke to someone who said ‘yeah, I speak English, but I don’t speak Czech, and I laughed at certain parts, and then there were parts which people were laughing at, where I didn’t have a clue what they were laughing about’.

“But that’s okay. Why not? You have half of the audience laughing at one point, the other half laughing at another point, and sometimes they laugh together. It is quite interesting in the audience to look at how they respond.”

And what did the audience make of it on its opening night?

“It was great. It was optimistic and funny, and so that is what I liked.”

“There were two people, a young woman, a young man. They met in a café, and they were trying to connect with one another somehow. They were trying in many different ways, and that is what I liked about it. I liked that there were so many options, I didn’t really realise that before.”

“Yeah, I found it funny. It was wonderful, I think.”

And did you have a favourite bit?

“I liked how they were collaborating. They worked really very well together, and that’s it really.”

‘Láska je love, love is láska’ is on at 7pm on Wednesday evening at Divadlo na Zábradlí. It will be performed twice a month in the theatre’s Eliade library until the beginning of June.