It may be the holiday season, a time when most prefer fairy tales on Czech TV, but fans of detective fiction, horror or the avant garde also had a chance to come into their own. Just before Christmas the Klicpera Theatre in Hradec Králové premiered a new play by one of the Czech Republic’s most successful playwrights and directors, David Drábek. The focus? None other than the great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.
The inhabitant of 221B Baker Street created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has a warm place in many Czech readers’ hearts, not least for the short story A Scandal on Bohemia: he has been depicted in numerous adaptations or recordings. The latest play by David Drábek, named Sherlock Holmes: The Bearded Lady Murders, adds (as the title implies) something of an absurd twist: a bizarre order where killings have been taking place.
The production is something between a parody or homage and a serious detective mystery. There are strong elements of comedy but also horror, all stylised in a cinematic manner and the audience can follow along trying to guess who committed the crime. The man who plays Sherlock Holmes in the production, Lubor Novotný, is not sure, however, that viewers have quite enough information to make an educated guess.
“I don’t think there are actually enough clues offered for viewers to be able to guess who the killer is.”
The director meanwhile told Czech TV that the line or what he called a bridge between solving a murder and committing one was very small - a process he found fascinating.
Sherlock Holmes: The Bearded Lady Murders (or Murder at the Order of the Bearded Nuns if you prefer) continues at the Klicpera Theatre in January, as does a second homage by the same writer/director Noc oživlých mrtvol (Night of the Living Dead) a celebration of post-apoc B-movies and zombies. As many reviewers have noted, Klicper Theatre and its head, author/director David Drábek through this and other productions promise an unusual experience for Czech viewers ripe with references from everything from George Romero to Monthy Python to modern B-movie master Roberto Rodriguez – the director of films like From Dusk Till Dawn and Planet Terror.